Premier League Darts: Smith the each-way option with MVG odds-on for glory

Michael van Gerwen
MVG is bidding for four-in-a-row in 2019 Premier League

The 15th Premier League gets underway in Newcastle on Thursday, kicking off an expanded 17-week event that sees Michael van Gerwen going for four-in-a-row. James Buttler returns with a look at the best outright bets...

"With his biggest rival, Anderson, not on the oche this time, MVG is as short is 1/2 to win the event and 1/2 to post the highest match average. Both are solid plays and MVG has every chance of landing his fifth Premier League title, but let's find something a little more exciting!"

The lowdown

Nine of the world's best darts stars and nine 'new faces' are poised to entertain as the PDC event moves through Glasgow, Dublin and Exeter before breaking for the UK Open in the first week in March.

It returns with evenings in Leeds, Nottinghan and Berlin before heading for a double-header in Rotterdam, which will include Judgement Night on 28 March when the field is reduced to eight. The battle is then on over the remaining seven nights in Liverpool, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds to qualify for the last four Play-Offs evening at the o2 Arena in London on 23 May to decide this year's champion.

Nine 'guest stars' replace Anderson

Michael van Gerwen, Rob Cross, Peter Wright and Gary Anderson qualified as the top four players in the PDC Order of Merit.

The PDC wildcards were announced as Daryl Gurney, Michael Smith, Gerwyn Price and James Wade. The Sky Sports pair of wildcards to complete the 10 participants are Mensur Suljović and Raymond van Barneveld.

But Anderson withdrew three days before the start of the tournament because of a back injury and the PDC decided to replace the Scot with nine new faces who will all make guest appearances in the run up to Judgement Night. The likes of Dave Chisnall, Adrian Lewis and Simon Whitlock will feel they should have replaced Anderson, but the PDC have opted instead to reward a wider array of talent.

Chris Dobey, Glen Durrant, Steve Lennon, Luke Humphries, John Henderson, Nathan Aspinall, Max Hopp, Dimitri van den Bergh and Jeffrey de Zwaan will take it in turn to make their Premier League debuts. If they are successful they stand to win money. Any points won against them will count towards Premier League stanndings.

MVG the likely winner

It is tough, if not foolhardy, to look beyond Michael van Gerwen. He loves the leg-based format and has won the event for the last three years. Over 17 weeks it would be a major surprise if the Dutchman did not top the league and the 2/9 for that to happen is fair. With his biggest rival, Anderson, not on the oche this time, MVG is as short is 1/2 to win the event and 1/2 to post the highest match average. Both are solid plays and the 'Green Machine' has every chance of landing his fifth Premier League title, but let's find something a little more exciting

The each way punt

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Players Championship Finals winner Daryl Gurney has plenty of confidence after a successful 2018. Gerwyn Price will take a few scalps and Peter Wright loves the big stage, but both are plagued by inconsistency.

The 2018 World Champion Rob Cross is the third favourite at 10/1 and again he will compete and win matches, but he is still searching for the form he showed a year ago and, although 'Voltage' had a good Premier League debut last year, I can't trust him this time around.

Last year's runner-up Michael Smith (pictured), who was beaten by MVG in the World Darts final a month agao, takes a Premier League spot for a second year. He has every chance of going close again. 'Bully Boy' is 15/2 to win the trophy, but with e/w terms 1/3 odds to finish in the top two it's tough to see him not fighting for your money at the 02 Arena on 23 May.

The outsider play

I bypassed Daryl Gurney for the e/w recommendation, but he's growing as a player all of the time and a confidence boosting 2018 will send him into this Premier Leagie campaign with high hopes. The price of 15/8 for the Northern Irishman to qualify for the semi-finals has serious appeal and an e/w play at 22/1 isn't the daftest bet in the world.

An early bath for Barney?

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I hate to put this up because of what the Dutchman has given the sport down the years, but at 15/8 to be eliminated on Judgement Day, Raymond van Barneveld looks a good bet to finish bottom of the pile. He shouldn't be in this event. It was an emotional decision to include Barney for the 14th successive season as he waves goodbye to the professional game. His game is not as strong these days as the other eight in the field.

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