Daryl Gurney is relishing being part of the Premier League Darts play-offs at the O2 Arena but knows he will be the outsider (Gurney 10/1 Outright Betting).
The Ulsterman qualified for the semi-finals by defeating World Championship finalist Michael Smith 8-3 in Leeds last Thursday to finish fourth in the standings.
Gurney, now world number three following victory at the German Darts Championship and Gary Anderson’s inactivity, will face Michael van Gerwen in the last-four, with either James Wade or Rob Cross waiting in the final.
He has not been at his best throughout the campaign – a slow start, with three losses from five games nearly cost him early on – but his form has steadily improved over the weeks, with Gerwyn Price and Mensur Suljovic both narrowly missing out on a trip to London.
Gurney now faces the difficult task of trying to overcome table-topping Van Gerwen but, after beating the Dutchman in Manchester earlier this month, the 33-year-old has the belief that he can cause an upset (Van Gerwen 1/5, Gurney 7/2 Match Betting).
“I’m absolutely delighted to make it to The O2, it really is a dream come true and now anything is possible,” said Gurney, who also beat Van Gerwen to win the Players Championship Finals in November 2018.
“To play in front of a massive crowd at such a famous darts venue is another tick in the box of what I want to achieve in my career and I’m already looking forward to it.
“Of the four players next week I’ll probably be the fourth favourite, but being the underdog doesn’t bother me as I know what I can do.
“As long as you’ve got the belief, along with scoring power and a high finishing percentage, then you can beat anyone.”
The world number one was beaten 8-5 by ‘Superchin’ in Manchester last Thursday to concede top spot in the standings to Rob Cross, as the PDC roadshow enters the last two weeks of group action.
However, he showed no ill effects in Premstatten, beating England’s Ian White 8-7 in the final to claim the Austrian Darts Open for the first time in his stellar career.
The Dutch ace also took out Steve Lennon, Stephen Bunting, Peter Wright and Gurney on his way to the final and was delighted with his weekend’s work.
“It’s the first time I’ve played here and I wanted to win so I’m really glad I did,” he said. “Ian was phenomenal and he pushed me to the end. What more can you want, winning the title in a good game and with a good crowd – that makes darts.”
‘Mighty Mike’ has topped the table every year since his 2013 Premier League debut but that record is now under threat after last week’s defeat.
Cross (7/2 – Outright), who beat the disappointing Michael Smith 7-1 at the Manchester Arena, is now one point clear of MVG at the top of the standings.
‘Voltage’ toes the oche alongside Mensur Suljovic in Sheffield this week and is priced at 5/6 to take the points, with ‘The Gentle’ on offer at 9/4.
Van Gerwen faces Wright and is 2/7 to emerge victorious, with ‘Snakebite’ the outsider at 7/1.
Gurney is one of only two players to beat the world number in this year’s PDC roadshow, taking out the Dutchman 7-5 during week seven in Berlin.
James Wade inflicted a shock 7-3 defeat on MVG in week four at Exeter’s Westpoint Arena, with the three-time world champion winning eight and drawing three of his other matches to sit at the top of the standings.
It seems as though he, along with second-placed Rob Cross, is a certainty to make the O2 Arena semi-finals on May 23 but the other two last-four spots are up for grabs.
Wade is third ahead of Gerwyn Price and Mensur Suljovic but all three stars have 15 points to their name.
Gurney is sixth, two places from qualification, but is just one point adrift of the trio, meaning it is all to play for in the remaining three weeks of league action.
Price and Wade square off in Manchester this week, with the former on offer at 8/5 to take the points and ‘The Machine’ priced at 5/4.
All matches involving those at the business end of proceedings are crucial and Suljovic is 20/21 to beat Peter Wright (2/1).
Michael van Gerwen has added the German Open title to his trophy cabinet.
Michael van Gerwen served notice of his intention to continue dominating darts with victory in the German Open (Van Gerwen 1/2 – Premier League Darts outright).
The world number one beat England’s Ian White 8-3 in the Saarbrucken final to claim the title for the first time in his career.
The Dutchman came through a few close matches en route to the final, beating Raymond van Barneveld 6-5, Nathan Aspinall by the same scoreline and Dave Chisnall 7-6.
MVG averaged well over a hundred in two of his matches but a three-dart average of 100.22 was enough to get past ‘Diamond’.
Despite winning three matches by the odd leg, the three-time world champion confessed that he was never too flustered during the event.
“I always felt quite comfortable and I always believe in myself, you can never give up,” he said.
“I knew I had never won here before so I had to win it today and I think I played a phenomenal tournament. I feel great and I’m really happy to be the winner.”
Van Gerwen now sits at the top of the Premier League standings after following up his thrashing of Rob Cross in Cardiff by drawing 7-7 with James Wade last time out in Birmingham.
The man in green will toe the oche alongside Daryl Gurney in Manchester this Thursday as his quest to win the league phase of the competition goes on (Gurney 5/1, Van Gerwen 1/3 – Premier League Darts match betting).
Gurney sits on 14 points and is just one point but two places outside the top four with three weeks to go.
Last year’s beaten Premier League finalist Michael Smith finds himself drinking in the last-chance saloon as the eight remaining players head to Birmingham on Thursday.
Smith (6/5 – Match Betting), who has won only three matches this season, must beat Mensur Suljovic (6/4, Tie 7/2) or face elimination with three weeks to go before the play-offs.
‘Bully Boy’ has been posting high averages in his recent matches but suffered a humiliating 6-0 defeat to Ricky Evans at the German Darts Grand Prix last week.
His 7-2 loss to Suljovic when they met in Week Seven in Berlin means the Merseysider has now come up short in three of his last four matches against his opponent.
And the Austrian, who has 14 points to his name this year, will be aware that this match represents his best chance of adding to his tally with scheduled meetings with the top two – Michael van Gerwen and Rob Cross – to come in his final three fixtures.
Cross (5/6) can go top of the standings, even if only briefly, on Thursday when he faces Gerwyn Price (11/5, Tie 18/5) at Arena Birmingham.
The former world champion’s Premier League momentum was brought to a shuddering halt bt MVG in Cardiff last week, but Cross can be counted on to bounce back against Price.
He has a 3-1 head-to-head advantage in their meetings since the start of 2018 and has posted a higher tournament average and checkout percentage than the Welshman in 2019.
A defeat for Price would open the door for Daryl Gurney to jump above him if the Northern Irishman can prolong Peter Wright’s misery for another week.
Winless since Week Five, Wright has fallen so far out of contention that he could be eliminated next week.
Gurney (11/10) and Wright (13/8) shared the points from a 6-6 tie (7/2) earlier this year but the Scotsman squandered chances to win from 6-3 up and should make amends against a similarly out-of-form opponent.
Van Gerwen (4/9 – Match Betting) will be out to avenge a memorable 7-3 beating he took at the hands of James Wade (4/1, Tie 9/2) in Week Four when they meet in the last match on the oche.
Wade is capable of a sustained challenge again but MVG is back to his awesome best and should have no problem in setting the record straight.
Cross, who lost 10-6 to MVG in last year’s semi-finals, is currently leading the way on 17 points and heads to Wales on a three-game winning run, having defeated Jeffrey de Zwaan, Daryl Gurney and Peter Wright.
The 28-year-old Englishman is just a point ahead of second-placed Van Gerwen, who bounced back to winning ways in Liverpool last time out with a thumping 8-3 victory over Michael Smith.
It was way back in Week 3 when the leading duo last met, with the Dutchman recording a convincing 7-2 win to take his overall head-to-head record against Cross to 13-3.
Another victory for MVG would send him back into first position and boost his chances of topping the standings ever since his debut season in 2013, with just four games remaining after Cardiff.
In the other matches this evening, fifth-placed Mensur Suljovic takes on sixth-placed Daryl Gurney in a crucial battle for the top-four positions. Both players are locked on 12 points and a win for either player could see them jump into the play-off positions.
‘The Gentle’ Suljovic, who suffered his fourth loss of the campaign last time out, is 6/4 to pick up the win, a draw is priced at 10/3, while Gurney is the narrow 6/5 favourite.
‘The Machine’ is in fantastic form after he secured a weekend double of Players Championship titles – his third success in the past eight days – and he goes up against an opponent who has not tasted success since Week 5.
The fourth and final match involves Michael Smith and Gerwyn Price. The controversial Welshman moved into fourth place on 12 points with an 8-5 victory over Suljovic last time out and will be buoyed playing on home soil.
‘Superchin’ is determined to take down the Austrian and feels he can afford just one further slip-up to book his place in the capital.
“The plan is to beat Mensur, give him nothing and go above him,” Gurney told Sky Sports. “If I go from now until the end of the season losing [no more than one] game, then I’ll be happy. One game, I’ll afford myself that.”
Van Gerwen has won the group stage in each of the years he has played but is under pressure from Cross to maintain that record.
The pair will toe the oche alongside each other at the Motorpoint Arena, with Cross on offer at 7/2 to take the points and MVG priced at 8/15.
Michael Smith believes he remains in contention to land the Premier League Darts title.
Michael Smith feels he needs to win five of his six remaining Premier League matches to stand a chance of making the play-offs (Smith 25/1 – Premier League outright).
The 28-year-old reached the final of the 2018 edition but has struggled this year, winning just three of his 10 matches to date.
That has left him sitting in eighth place in the standings with just six week to push himself up to the top four and earn a place at London’s O2 Arena on May 23.
‘Bully Boy’ has shown only glimpses of his best form and last week’s draw with Peter Wright in Belfast was symptomatic of his problems.
He averaged 100.78 to ‘Snakebite’s’ 90.95 but fluffed his lines when it mattered most to let the Scottish-born veteran take a point.
Smith was brutally honest about his time in the 2019 Premier League and admits repeated failures have started to affect his mindset.
“I’ve been rubbish in the Premier League,” he said. “I’m playing well, but I’m just not getting results. When you’re not getting results, the doubt starts to creep in.”
Next up for the St Helens man is a clash with world number one Michael van Gerwen on Thursday in Liverpool, with MVG hoping to go one better than his draw with Gerwyn Price last time out (Van Gerwen 4/11, Smith 9/2, draw 11/2 – match betting).
Smith is staring up at the rest of the field after Raymond van Barneveld’s elimination and the world number six is under no illusions as to what he must now do to prolong his stay in the competition beyond the group stage.
“I’ve got to win the next five,” he added. “[A win against Wright] would have made it easier.
“That would have put me two points behind, now I’m three points behind. I need the top two, Michael and Rob (Cross), to beat everyone apart from me.”
The campaign goes up a notch on the back of Raymond van Barneveld suffering relegation in Rotterdam last week with eight players all vying to secure a place in the play-offs in the remaining matches.
The headline game this week sees Cross, who sits second in the standings, go up against Northern Irishman Gurney, who is in fourth after his impressive 7-3 win against Mensur Suljovic seven days ago.
Gurney followed up his Premier League win with victory in the German Darts Championship on the PDC’s European Tour circuit last weekend and is relishing the prospect of securing another win against Cross after defeating him 7-5 at Belfast’s SSE Arena 12 months ago.
But the world number two arrives having silenced the Dutch support last Thursday when he defeated Jeffrey de Zwaan 7-4, so he is looking to build on that by keeping the Northern Irish fans quiet this week.
Cross said: “I played a Dutchman, Jeffrey de Zwaan, in Rotterdam last week and I know the crowd will be behind Daryl too but I’m looking forward to it.
“Daryl’s playing great darts at the moment and he’s a fantastic guy.
“I had to dig in last week to win against Jeffrey but that’s not a bad thing to have a battle like that. I hit some big scores at important times and my game’s been pretty good recently.
“I’ve got to keep doing what I’ve been doing but I’m playing well. I’ve shown some character recently and I’ve needed to do that.”
Meanwhile, world number one Michael van Gerwen (1/2 – Premier League Outright) is looking to take his head-to-head record against Gerwyn Price to 16-0, while Suljovic takes on James Wade and Michael Smith faces Peter Wright in Thursday’s other clash.
Gurney, 33, has hit back from an indifferent start to the Premier League campaign to record a draw and three wins from his past four matches and sits fourth in the standings, with 11 points from nine games played (Gurney 16/1 – Outright Betting).