This week sees the culmination of the Premier League Darts season with the playoffs taking place at the 02 Arena in London. It’s not the only big sports event in the capital this week however as just two days later Manchester United and Chelsea clash in the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium in what should be an equally as dramatic occasion.
Premier League Darts Review Night 14 & Playoffs Review
We’ll begin with a quick review of events of Night 14 in Aberdeen which saw the opening three games of the evening drawn as Michael Smith and Raymond van Barneveld, Simon Whitlock and Rob Cross plus Peter Wright and Daryl Gurney all saw their matches finish in 6-6 draws.
That left the Premier League table pretty much as it stood and meant that before Gary Anderson took on Michael van Gerwen in the final game of the night, he knew that he would be at Wembley next week, with a win ensuring he avoided playing Michael van Gerwen again in the playoff semi-final.
In front of a partisan home support Anderson duly delivered, taking an exciting match 7-5 to claim third place in the table and ensuring that he would face Bullyboy Michael Smith in the second semi-final at Wembley. The defeated Michael van Gerwen, confirmed as the top seed and £25,000 cash prize winner for topping the table, now faces Rob Cross in the other semi.
The Playoffs take place at the 02 Arena and will be contested over the best of 19 legs in each semi final followed by a best of 21 legs final.
- Michael van Gerwen (1/5) v Rob Cross (7/2)
With no draw possible in the games now, the bookies have Michael van Gerwen as the massive favourite to defeat World Champion Rob Cross. There’s no doubting van Gerwen is the man in form in terms of consistency and three-dart-average, but he has lost fourtimes in the tournament and has won just two of his last six. Cross however has equally poor form without a win in his last five Premier League darts games (three draws, two defeats) and the current World Champ is up against it here and I do fancy van Gerwen to win this one relatively comfortably.
- Michael Smith (2/1) v Gary Anderson (2/5)
Many people expected Michael Smith to fall away from the top of the table after his strong start but Bullyboy has proved them wrong, losing just five games all season and winning nine to deservedly take second spot in the table. Anderson’s win over van Gerwen last week catapulted him above Rob Cross into third and means that it’s a Scotland v England clash at Wembley in the second semi. This could be a close one, but I think Anderson is the more consistent player and as long as he can hit his doubles, I think he will just about edge this one.
- The Final
As for the final, well I’ve predicted a van Gerwen v Anderson clash and as for who wins, I do think that it is a toss of coin. Van Gerwen is a top quality player and the undoubted world’s best at the moment but I think Anderson has the game to beat him. This could go down to the wire and I’m going to buck the trend with favourites and say that Gary Anderson will just about nick this one.
FA Cup Final Preview
In addition to the excitement at the 02 Arena, Saturday sees London host another massive sports event as Chelsea and Manchester United clash in the FA Cup Final. The game, which will be shown live across the globe, will pit two of the biggest teams in the UK against each other, both knowing that this match is their only hope of landing some silverware this season.
Manchester United in Focus
United had a relatively comfortable passage through to the final, conceding just one goal in their five games in the competition thus far and requiring no extra time, replays or penalty shoot outs to progress through. They have netted at least two goals in each game in the tournament and their top scorer is Romelu Lukaku who has found the net in four of their five FA Cup games.
Lukaku however could be forced to start from the bench if he fails to recover from injury in time, although indications are he should be fit. If he does miss out, Marcus Rashford will likely deputise. Jose Mourinho will likely play his usual 4-3-3 formation with David De Gea in goal, Valencia, Yoiung, Smalling and Jones across the back, Herrera, Matic and Pogba in midfield along with Sanchez, Lukaku and Lingard in attack.
Chelsea in Focus
Chelsea were pushed in the Third Round by Norwich, only coming through after a replay and penalties against the Canaries but after that they have defeated some decent sides on their way to Wembley, including a fine extra time win away at Leicester in the quarterfinals. Antonio Conte’s problems though are well documented and many feel this may well be his last game in charge of Chelsea with rumours that he may be set for a return to Italy following the end of the season.
Conte has used several different formations and a large number of players in recent games so picking his formation and team is not as easy, but I do feel the Italian thinks 3-4-2-1 is his best formation and as such I think he’ll adopt that approach for this game.
Willy Caballero has played all six of their FA Cup ties this season and I think he’ll get the nod in goal ahead of Courtois, which is a brave call given the Belgian players quality. Azpilicueta will start in defence alongside two out of Cahill, Christensen and Rudiger. Alonso and Moses will play the wing back roles with Kante and Fabregas likely to be the holding midfielders.
In front of them I’d expect to see Willian and Eden Hazard tasked with scoring goals and creating chances for their likely single striker, Olivier Giroud, whose better form of late seems to have seen him elevated to first choice ahead of Alvaro Morata.
Match Tips with odds courtesy of bet365
- Full Time Result – Draw – 3.20 with bet365 Sport
- First Goalscorer – Olivier Giroud – 7.00 with bet365 Sport
- Correct Score – 1-1 – 6.00 with bet365 Sport
- To Lift the trophy – Chelsea – 1.90 with bet365 Sport