Taylor v Van Gerwen – What the experts think

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Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen battle it out tonight in the final of the Ladbrokes World Darts Championship in what promises to be an evening of high drama.

Alexandra Palace will be packed to the rafters once again and a capacity crowd will be joined by a TV audience of millions as the biggest and most-prestigious tournament in the sport comes to a close.

Seventy two players from around the world entered the competition in mid-December and the field of hopefuls has been whittled down to the final two after 14 days of unforgettable action.

It’s now a straight shootout between 15-time world champion Taylor and Van Gerwen, a player brimming with confidence after a 2012 that included his first major PDC title at the World Grand Prix.

The 23-year-old edged a thriller with defending champion Adrian Lewis in the quarter-finals and almost hit successive nine-dart finishes against James Wade in a semi he clinched 6-4.

While Van Gerwen has produced explosive darts, Taylor has been more methodical in the way he has seen off Andy Hamilton and Raymond van Barneveld since reaching the last eight after the Christmas break.

The contrast in styles is just one reason why it is one of the most eagerly-anticipated finals in years.

Here we get the views of a panel of darts experts ahead of the Taylor and Van Gerwen tussle.

Tony Kelshaw (Press Association Sport, Betting Editor)

Prediction: Taylor to win 7-4 (13/2)

‘Play the board, not the man’ will be Van Gerwen’s mantra but that’s easier said than done when facing the Power in your first world final at Ally Pally.

Mighty Mike has been machine-like in racking up big averages but has looked vulnerable on the doubles and stuttered when James Wade slowed things down, so how will he cope with a master of mind games like Taylor?

Phil showed his determination when edging out Barney, so take him to wear down another volatile Dutchman.

Kristian ‘Krispy’ Brown (Webmaster and darts writer for Darts, Beers & Cheers)

Prediction: MVG to win 7-5 (13/2)

If I was to look only at the results on Sunday night, then I could quite easily argue that Taylor will go on to take his 16th world title, but that would be ignoring what else happened.

Phil obviously expended a huge amount of emotional energy in that game against his old sparring partner, and his over-the-top reaction to the handshake has forced him into a media whirl of apology and explanation.  Hardly the best preparation for the world final.

Michael, on the other hand, is riding a wave of confidence, and he may also have won the hearts of the fans in the arena come Tuesday night.  I think he will paint the town orange as long as his doubles hold, as brutal scoring power will be too much for Phil.  What I do expect is another nine darter; and if one player hits it, I think the other one will do so too.

Dan Dawson (Darts journalist)

Prediction: Taylor to win (4/5)

I think Michael is the favourite, but if you pushed me, I say Phil wins. Just. But we could have an absolute classic.

The only advice I would ever give anybody about betting on darts is if you don’t bet against Phil Taylor, you haven’t lost a lot of money in the last 20 years. Never bet against Phil Taylor.

Lenny Boyle (Daily Mirror, darts journalist)

Prediction: MVG to win 7-6 (7/1)

MVG. Taylahr (as Sid Waddell said it). A kid versus a granddad, a multi-generational tungsten fandango.

The future of the sport, nay, civilisation hangs in the balance. Darts has been so crazy it almost jumped the shark this week, so; final prediction: MVG wins a 7-6 thriller and chucks a nine-darter; confirming the rumours he ain’t human.

John Gwynne (Sky Sports commentator)

Prediction: Taylor to win (4/5)

Michael will go into the match with absolutely nothing to lose. He has not, at his relatively tender age of 23, experienced a battering from Taylor. In fact, he beat him fairly recently once or twice.

He came through those games unscathed not bearing the scars of battle. I think that Van Gerwen will give a good account of himself, but if there are weaknesses in his game, then I think that Phil Taylor will exploit him.

I would be inclined to back Phil as he’s not going to get that close to a 16th world title and let it slip away.

Lee Bennett and Steve Hawley (Webmasters at Dartsmad.com)

Prediction: MVG to win 7-5 (13/2)

The unstoppable Dutch Juggernaut rolls on and there is only one outcome, surely?

The head-to-head statistics reveal The Power prevailing in 14 out of 18 career meeting’s between the pair. What makes more interesting reading, though, is van Gerwen’s 100% record over the past 12 months winning both their recent fixtures on the floor and on TV.

Mighty Mike’s incessant power scoring buys him so many chances at the double that he can afford the odd miss but he can be sure the 15-time world champion will gobble up any opportunities he’s presented with.

The 9-darter is as short as 9/2. Could we see two players hit one in the same game for the first time? It will be close, it will be a ding dong, but a world title for MVG would be just reward for this most purple of patches.

Please Note: All Odds and Markets are correct at the time of publishing

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