Mighty Mike to continue changing the guard in Premier League
Michael van Gerwen became only the third player besides Phil Taylor to win the Premier League last year and the World Champion should be backed to keep the guard changing.
Although many pundits point to 2012 and his maiden major PDC title at the World Grand Prix as the time Mighty Mike made his breakthrough, arguably just as important was coming from behind to beat Phil Taylor in the final of this event last year.
Up until that point the ultra-popular Dutchman had been largely dominated by Taylor and there were accusations that there was a psychological deficit following his defeat to The Power in last year’s World Championship final where he led 4-2 and missed darts to extend his lead.
However, all of that was forgotten when all looked lost trailing 5-2 to Taylor in the final at the O2 before five unanswered legs of pure brilliance set him on the road for a victory that meant as much to his mind as it did his mantelpiece.
Unfortunately the bookmakers, who have been running for cover ever since Van Gerwen started regularly posting +100 averages two years ago, have taken a similar view and installed the defending champion as 6/4 favourite ahead of Taylor who has been quoted at 2/1.
The layers have been guilty of being over-sensitive to the green juggernaut in the past, notably when making him slight favourite to win the World Championship last year, however, the same charge cannot be levelled at them this time.
The format is perfect for Van Gerwen with weekly shoot-outs in front of large adoring crowds making him a certainty to make the semi-finals in Greenwich.
Once there he knows exactly what is required and again the format will suit with a relatively quick-fire leg structure naturally lent on his rapid, power-packed game.
He became the first player to top the league standings apart from Taylor in his debut season and should be backed to continue his 100 per cent record in the event.
His biggest obstacle is always going to be the six-time winner but now the mental drawbridge has been lowered the mantle of the best player in the world can continue to be handed over.
Of the other players in action there are two semi-final places up for grabs but any thoughts of winning the event are fanciful.
Dave Chisnall (33/1) and World Championship finalist Peter Wright (16/1) make their debuts although it would be surprising if the former was able to last the distance while the latter has to be considered to make the top-four.
Raymond van Barneveld (16/1) and Simon Whitlock (16/1) are likely to be as competitive as ever while Gary Anderson (22/1) will be desperate to recapture the form that saw him go all the way back in 2011 after a difficult period.
Two-time world champion Adrian Lewis (9/2) would have massive claims if the tournament was held over a couple of weeks but Jackpot seems to struggle to maintain any momentum over the longer period and has to be ignored.
For this year though and for many others to come look no further than Van Gerwen as the Dutchman continues to change the sport as it has been known for so long.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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