It is the final round of the regular season in the Premier League Darts campaign on Thursday when we find out the identity of the four men who will battle it out for the title inside the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes on Friday evening.
We know that Michael van Gerwen, Nathan Aspinall and Jose de Sousa will line up on Friday and on Thursday we will find out the other player when Jonny Clayton battles Dimitri Van den Bergh for the final spot.
Gary Anderson vs James Wade
Two men who will be competing in the Premier League for the final time this season open up the show on Thursday evening when the former champions Gary Anderson and James Wade battle it out for prize money and pride.
Both men have had creditable weeks despite not doing enough to make it through to the knockout stages. Anderson finally picked up a point against Nathan Aspinall on Wednesday and continued what I said at the start of the week about him improving as the days go on because he doesn’t practice as much. That should make him favourite to beat Wade but you bet against Wade at this level at your peril and given that it is a complete dead rubber there is no need to get involved.
Nathan Aspinall vs Jose de Sousa
The second match of the evening is the only one between two men who are guaranteed to be here on Friday as the table topper heading into the week, Nathan Aspinall, faces the debutant Jose de Sousa who has been remarkably good so far.
Aspinall hasn’t quite been able to see the job through in his last two matches which means he goes into this evening in second place but if he wins here and Michael van Gerwen loses the next match, Aspinall can still top the table which is significant. De Sousa isn’t playing for nothing either. He can’t land the bonus for topping the table but a win here sees him finish second and then he would have the throw in the semi-final which could be significant. I don’t really want to oppose either man here but I can’t let the 4.5 180 line go begging on the Portuguese ace here. Not only is he on the edge of breaking the record for 180s in a season, needing two more here to do that, but in the reverse meeting between these two he smashed in 11 180s in 12 legs. He won’t hit that many here but he is relentless on the 60, playing with a bit of freedom here and can certainly make it to five 180s whatever the result here.
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Peter Wright vs Michael van Gerwen
The penultimate match of the league phase might be a dead rubber by the time it comes around or it might be a match in which Michael van Gerwen needs a point from to top the table. Whatever has happened by then Peter Wright can’t qualify anymore and is playing for pride.
This might be a dead rubber but I’m not sure those things exist between these two who are always engaging in wars of words and each wanting to shut the other up and get the better of the other on the dartboard. When you consider all the major events are still to come this year this could be a match which sets a marker down and the way Wright has played this week I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins it, especially if van Gerwen has won the league by then. It might mean something to these two but the chances are it won’t mean a lot in the overall picture so I can’t really be betting on this one.
Dimitri Van den Bergh vs Jonny Clayton
The knockout stages of the tournament might not begin until Friday night but the last regular season match is effectively a quarter final when Dimitri Van den Bergh takes on Jonny Clayton in a winner takes all clash with whoever comes out on top getting the fourth and final spot in the play-offs on Friday.
Clayton goes into this match with the advantage in that he has the draw on his side so Van den Bergh has to win. He has struggled to do that this week and actually goes into this match without a win in his last four outings. He made a big effort to try and rally the crowd and get them on his side on Wednesday evening after his draw with James Wade but he isn’t convincing me that he is comfortable in front of them. Clayton has chosen the wrong time to lose successive matches but his losses were to de Sousa and a resurgent Peter Wright so he hasn’t exactly been playing badly. My concern with backing him is once he’s got the draw will he ease up knowing he’s through and allow DVdB to get something? I’m on Clayton outright so I’m effectively needing him to avoid defeat for some Friday interest. That will do me here.
Back J.de Sousa – Over 4.5 180s for a 3/10 stake at 1.75 with Boylesports
Back him here: