Michael van Gerwen began his Premier League title defence with a thrilling victory over Michael Smith, and it will be hard for anyone to stop his relentless march to glory.
<p>Michael van Gerwen began the Premier League darts season in typically imperious form as he beat Michael Smith 7-5 in his opening match. The world number one is bidding for a fourth straight Premier League title after vanquishing Smith in the decider last season. He then beat Bully Boy once more to seize a third world title on New Year’s Day and clinched the Masters with an 11-5 triumph over James Wade at the start of this month. He is looking sensational right now and he justified his status as favourite to win the Premier League with a clinical performance on opening night.</p><p>The Green Machine is now 4/9 with <a href="http://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=bf7f64f4-cd67-4904-9b00-6ded1d41fd18" target="_blank">Bet365</a>, William Hill and various others to win the Premier League once again this season. Smith is the second favourite, but he has gone all the way out to 10/1 with Betfair after that loss on Thursday night. Bully Boy must be growing sick of the sight of van Gerwen after losing to him in several key matches of late. If he cannot stop the Dutchman, can anyone dethrone Mighty Mike this season?</p><p>Despite the short odds, he is by far the most popular choice thus far among punters in the Premier League darts futures betting market. Yet it is worth noting that MVG is not invincible. He lost four league matches last season, two against Peter Wright, while also suffering defeats to Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld. He crashed out of the World Matchplay with a shock loss against Jeffrey de Zwaan, Smith beat him at the Shanghai Darts Masters, Rob Cross toppled him in last year’s World Championship, Brendan Dolan beat him at the Danish Open, he incurred another surprise defeat to Dimitri Van Den Bergh at the German Masters and James Wade got the better of him at the US Masters.</p><p>Wade, one of only a few current players to ever win the Premier League title, also dazzled on opening night with a strong victory over Raymond van Barneveld. He averaged 99 and his four 180s en route to his 7-4 triumph and he claimed the win with a brilliant 124 checkout. He is as short as 20/1 with <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=df66db4b-b019-4343-9fc7-6c4f20e2a356" target="_blank">Paddy Power</a> now to win the title, but <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=a710bfac-73c1-4a57-b441-2caf1b9f397b" target="_blank">William Hill</a>, <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=a710bfac-73c1-4a57-b441-2caf1b9f397b" target="_blank">Ladbrokes</a> and <a href="https://a.oddsmarket.com/record/v?c=150&a=acd6b93a-905e-45af-90ef-7eb1df661829" target="_blank">Coral</a> are offering 33/1 on him and that might tempt a few punters. You can go each-way and get a third of the odds if he finishes second, so you would be in for a healthy profit if he took the runner-up spot.</p><p>Anderson’s withdrawal with injury narrows the field of stars with the potential to dethrone van Gerwen. Aside from Smith, the two main hopefuls are Cross and Wright. Of the two, Wright could make the more interesting bet as he is 14/1 with Betfair and you could comfortably go each-way on that price. The world number three beat van Gerwen twice last season, so he should not fear the Dutchman this time around. Snakebite battled to a draw with Cross in his opener, an extremely intense contest, and he looks well placed for an assault on glory this season. He was runner-up in 2017 and it is conceivable to imagine him repeating that feat this time around.</p><p>Right now it is hard to imagine anyone toppling van Gerwen, as he is just so talented, so experienced and so cool under pressure. He is likely to lose a few times in the regular season, but he should comfortably make the playoffs and then he usually comes into his own. But having the option of an each-way bet allows you to pick any other player, from Wright to Wade, safe in the knowledge that you will make a profit even if he loses to MVG in the final. Alternatively you can bet on players to reach the semi-finals: Cross is 4/5 with Sky Bet, Wright is 11/10 with William Hill and Wade is 7/4 with William Hill, Bet Victor and Betfred.</p>