As the competition makes the short hop across the Irish Sea, we must ask whether the favourite, Michael van Gerwen, may be coming under pressure, and if there is any value in looking beyond the Dutch master for this year’s champion. Plus, of course, we’ll preview the week’s Premier League fixtures and look at what the bookmakers are offering on the action at Liverpool M&S Bank Arena.
Short and not so sweet homecoming for Gurney
A few weeks of excellent performances saw Daryl Gurney arrive back on Northern Irish soil with some confidence of thrilling the home fans with a win. At the SSE Arena, the Derryman found himself paired with joint league leader Rob Cross. A tall order, and one which saw Gurney miss out on a joyous homecoming – despite taking the first leg, he wouldn’t lead for the rest of the night, eventually falling 8-4 to the Englishman – who himself is looking more and more like a contender for the title. Unibet have dropped his odds to 4/1, and if he can maintain current form, he has to be a serious contender.
Gurney will need to pick himself up for this week’s action. Outside the top four on leg difference alone, he faces James Wade this week and can leapfrog the Englishman into fourth place with a win. Wade is 6/5 favourite with 888sport, but Gurney has earned the right to be taken seriously and his 8/5 price might just be excellent value. For Cross, the immediate future brings a Liverpool meeting with Peter Wright; that’s one the front-runner will feel he should win.
van Gerwen slips up against familiar foe
Belfast’s big crunch clash threw together defending Premier League champion Michael van Gerwen and Wales’ Gerwyn Price, in a match we would call a “Gerwen derby” if this were a podcast rather than a written article – it’s just not as funny written down, unfortunately. Anyway, the players had met 15 times prior to this match, with 15 wins for the Dutch star. All of which meant things didn’t look good for Price ahead of his meeting with the favourite.
However, after losing the first leg, Price jumped out to a 5-1 lead, and then a 7-5 margin, and could surely taste victory. However, he had to settle for just the point as MvG got back to tie the match 7-7. Still – nobody beats Gerwyn Price sixteen times in a row, eh?
Van Gerwen, therefore, lost ground on Cross at the top of the table, but the top two face the bottom two in this week’s fixtures. With Cross/Wright on first, van Gerwen will know what he needs to do to stay in touch at the top when he faces Michael Smith in the evening’s final game. MvG is the favourite with Betway at 4/11 – so unless you can get an Odds Boost we’d just leave that one alone. You might consider a punt on the draw at 11/2, though – the champ has been dropping points against beatable opposition this season.
Suljovic back in the battle
Austria’s Mensur Suljovic started out the season bumping along at the bottom of the table and at one stage looked as though he could be duking it out with Raymond van Barneveld to avoid elimination. However, in recent weeks, he’s perhaps been the form player – form he showed again to defeat James Wade in a narrow 8-6 squeaker. The result lifted the Austrian above his opponent in the table and into third place. An initial outsider for the title, there’s now a live possibility of Suljovic at least contesting the playoffs.
He can do his challenge a few favours by taking revenge this week on Gerwen Price, who may be vulnerable right now having finally stopped his losing streak against van Gerwen. The bookies have Price as the favourite right now, but it’s a close-run thing – William Hill are offering 6/5 on the Welshman while Suljovic can be had for 6/4 at the same bookie. It’s a ludicrously tight one to call, and a win for either player will see them end the night in the playoff spots.
Meanwhile, in a clash lower down the table, Michael Smith and Peter Wright played out a 7-7 draw. This leaves Smith in last place, but he’d be wise not to lose hope. With eight points to his name, he’s just three behind James Wade who currently occupies the final play-off spot. A win this week would see him catapulted into the title race. No problem, right? Well, let’s just remind you that Smith faces Michael van Gerwen this week – so maybe the fightback starts next week?