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World Darts Championship quarters: Scottish-heavy New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day not only brings us the excitement of 2015, but also the first two quarter-finals of what has been a riveting PDC World Darts Championship at the Ally Pally.

Thursday’s terrific tungsten action sees title holder Michael van Gerwen take on Scot Robert Thornton, before two more stars from north of the border, Peter Wright and Gary Anderson, clash. At least one Scotsman will reach the semis.

Michael van Gerwen (1) v Robert Thornton (9)
Defending champion Van Gerwen (12/5 second-favourite) has dropped just one set in each of his matches to get to this stage so far, and he is a 3/1 chance with Coral to beat Thornton 5-1. However, the Scot has been in devastating form, whitewashing all those who have challenged him.

The duo have met 15 times before, with Mighty Mike (1/5 odds-on favourite) winning more than double the amount of matches as The Thorn (7/2).

Ahead of the encounter with Van Gerwen, Thornton, who defeated the Netherlands’ Benito van de Pas 4-0 in the third round, said: “Another Dutchman. We’ve had a few battles, me and Michael.

“I don’t see this one being any different, but I need to brush up on my scoring a little bit. It was little bit ragged up there.”

Van Gerwen, meanwhile, had to come through a potentially tricky test against Terry Jenkins, but saw the veteran Bull off 4-1. “Terry did well, but I thought he played better in the fourth set,” the Dutchman said. “He was 2-0 ahead. That was a big key moment in the game and that hurt him.

“You need to feel comfortable and relaxed to beat Terry Jenkins in the last 16. I feel confident, I feel good.”

“I am up to the quarter-finals and I feel confident. There is still something in the tank,” Van Gerwen added.

Thornton is in unchartered territory in this competition, but he is an 11/1 shout to reach the final. The winner of this match will face one of Wright or Anderson.

Peter Wright (5) v Gary Anderson (4)
This will be an intriguing match-up of two top Scottish players, and Coral fancy Anderson as the 2/5 odds-on favourite, due to his form leading up to this tournament and his 13-10 winning record over Wright (2/1).

But it really could go either way. Snakebite Wright has won nine of the previous 12 meetings with the Flying Scotsman, but the latter has claimed the last two, suggesting another close encounter is on the cards. Anderson has odds of 6/1 for a 5-4 victory.

Both these players are runners-up of the PDC World Championship, Wright last year and Anderson in 2011, and are respective 20/1 and 9/2 (third-favourite) chances to go all the way this time.

But despite Snakebite being unfancied in this fixture, he has come through his three matches so far at a loss of just one set, including whitewashing Andy Hamilton in the third round.

Anderson, however, has found it tough, first against the slow pace of American Scott Kirchner, before only just overcoming Jelle Klaasen 4-3 and then going 1-0 down to Spanish preliminary qualifier Cristo Reyes.

But the Flying Scotsman has answered everything his opponents have challenged him with, and his fighting spirit should just be enough to see off Wright as well.

Following his match with Spaniard Reyes in the third round, where he averaged 104.54, Anderson said: “I thought I played like my average was about 75.

“I was going all right, Cristo played well at some points, first set I thought ‘here we go again, he’s going to pinch a couple of sets and it’s going to go a long way’, but I got the job done and that’s the main thing.”

Like we saw in the clash of titans between Adrian Lewis and Raymond van Barneveld in the last round, you can back a nine-dart finish in this match as well at 16/1.