Wayne Mardle takes one final look into his crystal ball to predict the Premier League Darts semi-finals, and the outcome of his dream final…
I am one of those that wants to see the top two players in the world – forget the rankings – go head to head and that is Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson.
For me there is no better match-up in darts. I love Barney-MvG and the old vs the new, but Gary and Michael just get on with it and play with a freedom that no one plays with against them.
They have got to get through their semi-finals first and they are two hard semi-finals.
Premier League Darts – Play Offs Order of Play Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross Michael Smith v Gary Anderson Best of 19 legs The Final Best of 21 legs Live Premier League Darts
May 17, 2018, 7:00pm
Get Sky Sports Get a Sky Sports pass Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
The pair meet again in a major semi-final, four months on from their World Championship epic
Michael usually gets the better of Rob – except in semi-finals and we are in another biggie!
Full credit to Rob Cross, he started off woefully with those two defeats and that can be enough to make you panic, but he has done well and is not playing badly at all.
It will be a tough test for Michael but he normally gets the better of him. With two 7-2 wins in the league, Michael put that World Championship semi-final to bed.
Michael knows he has to be switched on against Rob, he knows he cannot ease off as he sometimes can do against others. If he can get another big win to beat the world champion three times, it will get everyone saying that the semi-final has definitely been put to bed.
I find it hard that Rob will be able to match him dart-for-dart like he did at the Worlds – the longer format will play into Michael’s hands, he is the form horse and there are no negatives about him, he even won at the weekend without playing particularly well.
I see Rob giving him grief for a while but Michael will be too good. It is boring to say but it is hard to ever say that you can see Michael getting beat.
Of course Rob can win the match but Michael wins by a handsome scoreline – let’s say 10-5
Gary Anderson v Michael Smith
Gary has been the most inconsistent of the four, maybe even Daryl Gurney as well, but he got enough wins and that is all that matters.
He lost to Michael first time round when he was really struggling and must have been thinking of pulling out when he was in so much agony with his back.
He put it right next time round and that first week is the only time that Michael has really got the better of Gary in four years.
However, Michael is a different animal – he is now an opportunity-taker rather than a someone who capitulates, he is a fighter and he is man not a kid.
The dynamic has changed with how he feels about himself and how he is perceived by all the other players. Speaking from experience you used to be able to get in front and then he would fold – not now, everything has changed.
Would it be a shock for Michael to win? No but I don’t think he wins, I think Gary is going to be fully ready.
I don’t think it will be easy for Gary but I think he wins 10-7.
Michael van Gerwen v Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen just missed out on a nine-dart finish, only for Gary Anderson to step up with 170 checkout!
These nights can be awkward for players when you have to get up for a couple of matches – the UK Open is a good example and this year’s champion was Gary Anderson.
I have no doubt that Gary knows how to manage himself on these occasions, Michael van Gerwen has won it a couple of times and I don’t see anything to stop them going head to head in the final.
These two going at it, it can be any scoreline but as always I cannot predict Michael to get beat, it is like when Phil Taylor was at his best – to say he is going to get beat would be a gut feeling that doesn’t make sense.
I think Gary runs him close – I have it in my head that it will be close for 14/15 legs before Michael runs riot in the last three or four.
The game will be littered with 180s, 100+ finishes but Michael wins it 11-7 by taking out 81 on the bullseye after Gary misses a dart for a 170 finish.
The tungsten action continues for the conclusion of the Premier League season with the Play-Offs on Thursday, May 17 at The O2 in London
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