- World champion and world No.2 Anderson won the most recent tournament on the PDC calendar, the Tokyo Darts Masters, earlier this month after beating Van Gerwen in the final.
- Van Gerwen lifted the Shanghai Darts Masters title last month, defeated Taylor in the final of the Premier League back in May and is the reigning World Matchplay champion. The Dutchman beat Wade in last year’s final and finished the tournament with a stunning three-dart average of 102.81.
- Ian White and Dave Chisnall have both won Players Championship events in July to boost their rankings and confidence ahead of the World Matchplay.
Van Gerwen is very much the man to beat in Blackpool and it is not hard to see why the bookies have him so far out in front of his nearest rivals. While he may have been beaten by Anderson in Tokyo, the longer format of the matches here will suit Van Gerwen, and it will take an inspired performance to beat him. He faces Jamie Caven in the first round, while the in-form Chisnall is potentially a very dangerous quarter-final opponent, but most of his main contenders are in the other half of the draw, so it would be a surprise if he failed to make the final.
Wade and Taylor will both fancy their chances of getting through the bottom half, but Anderson is playing better darts than either of them. Despite being pitted against the talented Alan ‘Chuck’ Norris in the first round, Anderson has the class to negotiate his way through the draw. A final prediction of Van Gerwen vs Anderson may not be the boldest punt in history, but the odds are still good at 5/2 as they are the two best players in the world and the length of the matches should ensure they are not caught cold.
Among the other markets, bettors can consider the number of 180s that will be scored, both in total and by individual players. you can get odds of 4/5 that Van Gerwen will score over 34.5 180s and that could be well worth a flutter. The Dutchman will probably have to get to the final to reach that tally, but he hit 39 on his way to winning the title last year and is arguably an even better player now than he was a year ago.
- Sports.net’s top tip - Michael van Gerwen to play Gary Anderson in the final - 5/2
*Please note, odds may fluctuate before and during the tournament