Paddy Power World Darts Championship: If the top contenders were Premier League clubs…

No one wants to be Man United, I can guarantee that

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Christmas time, mistletoe and wine… and darts.

The Paddy Power World Darts Championship is almost here and we can’t wait to get the Mario costume out for over a month a top tungsten twiddling action.

The annual arrers extravaganza is as traditional a Christmas fixture as sprouts, socks and Harry Potter on the telly, and we’ve no doubt you’ll find yourself watching a session or seven while you pick over the turkey sandwiches and tins of biccies.

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But you might not be entirely up-to-date with the biggest movers and and sharpest shakers in the darting game in 2023 – sorry to break it to you, but Ted Hankey will not be swearing at 3pm on a Wednesday afternoon on live TV this year. So sad.

If you were counting on The Count showing up, you might find our quick guide to the favourites for this year’s tournament helpful, and because we all (think we) know a bit about football, what better way to introduce the runners and riders than through the language of the beautiful game?

So here’s our guide to who’s vying for the title and who’s in the relegation dogfight at the Ally Pally this year…

Michael van Gerwen – Man City

Okay, so MVG isn’t the defending champ but he’s always the favourite or thereabouts and remains the ever-present threat in the minds of every other contender as long as he’s still in the draw.

And while City are going through something of a bumpy patch themselves, Van Gerwen is not the red-hot frontrunner of previous years, though everyone still thinks if Arsenal or Liverpool don’t win the Premier League, it’s probably going to be City, isn’t it? Same goes for Mighty Mike.

Luke Humphries – Aston Villa

Humphries has an even better chance than Villa of claiming the crown here but his rise to among the favourites has been just as sudden as the midlands club as he’s not made it past the quarter finals of the World Championship before. 2023 has seen him hit a streak of form collecting multiple title that make him the biggest threat to MVG.

Gerwyn Price – Liverpool

A recent champion who has gone toe-to-toe with the very best over the years and looks poised to snipe another title if the favourites slip-up (no pun intended – kinda)? That’s The Iceman in a nutshell and he looks just as competitive as Jurgen Klopp’s side going into the World Championship this year.

Gary Anderson – Arsenal

The Flying Scotsman is among a select group of multiple word title winners, and that history mirrors the Gunners’ record as previous Premier League champions, though Anderson has remained as big a challenger on the biggest stage even when out of form. Like the London club, Anderson is a contender who will be there or thereabouts when the Sid Waddell trophy is claimed this year.

Michael Smith – Spurs

Well, someone had to be. The big difference is that Smith has actually won a world title, whereas Tottenham win nothing, but under new manager Ange Postecoglou they’ve been providing fireworks similar to The Bully Boy’s devastating 180-hitting performances over the years, and who knows, maybe Spurs can finally break their trophy hoodoo in as spectacular fashion as Smith won his world crown last year? Anything is possible.

Peter Wright – Newcastle

With his signature flamboyant style, Snakebite calls to mind the great entertainers of the Keegan era rather than the currently resurgent Magpies, but his games are as electric as a night at St James’ Park and he’s always capable of taking down one of the favourites on his day.

Rob Cross – Chelsea

Rose from relative obscurity to win the Worlds in 2018 in a fashion similar to Chelsea’s sudden emergence when taken over in the early noughties. Cross has the silverware much like the Blues, and remains a threat to those at the top of the market.

Raymond van Barneveld – Man United

No one wants to be the Man United on this list, but Barney just isn’t the force he once was. That his army of supporters will bring the noise and colour there is no doubt, much like United’s millions of fans around the world (in orange rather than red – or green-and-gold depending on results), but we can’t see it adding up to much when the trophies are handed out.

Nathan Aspinall – West Ham

An underdog, Nathan Aspinall might not always grab the headlines but will always be a challenge for anyone – and do we need to mention the Hammers’ recent European success?

James Wade – Everton

A tough, defiant performer able to make a big impact in any contest, no one likes going to play at Goodison Park and no one will want to face James Wade at the Ally Pally. He just needs to gargle a bucket of gravel like Sean Dyche every morning and the comparison is perfect.

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS – MARCH 27: James Wade of England competes against Dimitri Van den Bergh of Belgium during day one of the 2019 Unibet Premier League Darts on March 27, 2019 at the Ahoy in Rotterdam, Netherlands. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

 

Josh Rock – Brighton

Up-and-coming talent but hasn’t a senior honour to his name, Rock can shake the big boys in just his second appearance at the event, much like the Seagulls. One to watch.

Jonny Clayton – Brentford

The Ferret has claimed a few big scalps in recent years and can turn any match into a battle, much like Thomas Frank’s persistent Bees – though he’s more likely to come away with the top prize than the London side.

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