Michael van Gerwen is the favourite to win tonight's Premier League Darts play-offs and Dan Fitch sees no reason to look beyond the Dutch master winning his sixth crown...
"As the league winner, we have to favour Van Gerwen, who showed real consistency in the latter stages, as he won six of his last seven games."
Premier League Darts - Play Offs
Friday 28 May
Live on Sky Sports Main Event
Tonight sees the conclusion of another Premier League Darts season, as the remaining four players compete in the play-offs at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes.
Michael van Gerwen will play Jonny Clayton in the first semi-final, before Jose de Sousa meets Nathan Aspinall in the second semi. MVG is the favourite to win the Premier League at 2.427/5, having topped the table. De Sousa is the second favourite at 3.711/4, with Clayton at 5.69/2 and Aspinall at 6.25/1.
The play-offs sees a longer format employed, with the semi-finals taking place over the best of 19 legs and the final over 21 legs. With five previous wins, Van Gerwen will be looking to equal Phil Taylor's record of six Premier League wins, while the other three compete to become the seventh name on the trophy.
MVG big price to outscore Clayton
Michael van Gerwen 1.594/7 v Jonny Clayton 2.68/5
Start time 19:15
Clayton did very well on Thursday night to hold his nerve and beat Dimitri van den Bergh, in a high-quality game that decided who would take the final play-off spot. His finishing was deadly and his scoring on his own throw, was so heavy, that the Belgian rarely got a chance to break.
If Clayton can play to the same level then he could cause MVG problems. Both players have a win apiece from their previous meetings, with Clayton winning 7-3 on Night 9 and Van Gerwen winning 8-5 on Night 11.
As the league winner, we have to favour Van Gerwen, who showed real consistency in the latter stages, as he won six of his last seven games. Against a player of Clayton's quality, there's little value in MVG's price, but there is some to be found in the Most 180s market. Van Gerwen is generally the outsider in this market these days, but looks big at 3.211/5 having hit three 180s against Peter Wright on Thursday and with Clayton having failed to land a single 180.
Aspinall will push De Sousa closer
Jose de Sousa 1.645/8 v Nathan Aspinall 2.447/5
Start time 20:10
We don't have to look very far back for an encounter between this pair, with De Sousa and Aspinall having played each other in the final match of their Premier League campaign.
It was De Sousa who ran out as an 8-3 winner on Thursday. In their previous meeting on Night 4 they drew 6-6 and this should be a similarly tight game. Aspinall is a player who needs to get the adrenalin pumping to be at his best and there wasn't much at stake in last night's game, other than to decide who finished second and who would be third.
Though De Sousa is a worthy favourite on current form, Aspinall should at least push him closer and has the extra experience, having reached the Premier League final last year. De Sousa has regularly been hitting averages of over 100, but in a tight game over a longer format, it could pay to back his average to dip a little tonight. Back De Sousa to average under 99.5 at 1.834/5.
There's no reason to look beyond Van Gerwen as the eventual winner. He's got far more experience of this event than the other three, is in the best form and is back in his element, playing in front of live crowds.
If the two favourites win their semi-finals, then MVG will be confident, having beaten De Sousa in both of their league encounters. Van Gerwen's price of 2.427/5 to win the Premier League remains pretty chunky considering all the factors in his favour.
Dan Fitch Premier League P/L
Staked: 73.00 pts
Returned: 86.18 pts
P/L: +13.18 pts