Expect maximums from the Scots
The PDC continues its southern spell this week in the Premier League as the tournament heads to Exeter for the fourth week of this year’s competition.
With last week’s road show heading to Bournemouth and the weekend’s UK Open qualifiers taking place in Crawley most of the Premier League boys are having to get used to being a long way from home.
The two men travelling the longest way south collide in Exeter as we experience the first ever all-Scottish battle in the Premier League between Gary Anderson and Rob Thornton. He may not be the highest placed debutant after three weeks but it is safe to say that Thornton is the surprise package of the tournament thus far as he remains undefeated in three contests with a couple of thrilling draws against Michael van Gerwen and Wes Newton which followed a first week win over Andy Hamilton.
Many expected Thornton to struggle in this format but he has taken to it brilliantly and has the crucial ability of being difficult to shrug off which has brought regularly unfancied players like Terry Jenkins and Hamilton last year great success in this event.
Anderson has continued to be his usual sketchy and fairly unpredictable self this year as he was last. His dodgy doubling is fast becoming one of the most over-used clichés in darts but it is continuing to be his Achilles heel as it was last week when he was downed by Hamilton to leave him behind Thornton on just two points from three games. How Anderson fans have any hair left after watching him spurn endless opportunities is a mystery and in all likelihood they may well be very nervous when it comes to the relegation deciding contests.
There is no doubt that at the top of his game Anderson is a better player than Thornton but he is nowhere near that pinnacle at the moment. Given their differing form it seems odd that Thornton is second favourite and of the two it is him who looks much more tempting at 6/4 with bet365. What looks more of a tempter though is the over 6.5 180s which most places have as odds-on but Boyle Sports rate as 11/10. Thornton has been prolific on the maximums hitting more than anyone else so far with 14 in three games, Anderson is always likely to hit two or three so this looks a great punt.
The second contest of the evening sees the new world number three Michael van Gerwen taking on a man in pretty decent form himself in Andy Hamilton. MVG joined a select band to win both UK Open qualifiers in the same weekend with his two victories in Crawley on Saturday and Sunday and with two wins and a draw from his first three Premier League matches he does look fairly unbeatable at the moment and that has lead him to usurping James Wade’s spot as third on the planet.
Hamilton has bounced back from his first week’s loss to Thornton with consecutive wins though and is fourth in the table, again defying the odds in the Premier League as he did last year when he reached the semi-finals. The Hammer also has a very encouraging record against the Dutchman with a winning record over the youngster and four victories over him in the last 12 months, including one on stage at the Players Championship Finals in Minehead.
The Hammer does very well for us in the Premier League because he is regularly under-rated but despite his impressive record against MVG, it is not going to get any better this week. The bookies thoroughly expect the Dutchman to win and I agree, hunting for some value in his victory is the only difficult task. Bet365 offer an interesting market on the winner after four legs and whilst MVG is a best price of 8/15 to win the match, he is 21/20 to manage an early break and be ahead after four. Given his weekend form this has every chance of coming in and is worth a punt.
The third clash in Exeter is a real heavyweight bout between Phil Taylor and James Wade. It took the Power a whole three weeks to reach the summit of the league table, longer than some expected but most would be surprised if he relinquishes this position before the end of the tournament.
Taylor wasn’t at his peak the first two weeks but still managed a draw and a win before really hitting his stride last week when he fired in an average of 107.33 in hammering Simon Whitlock 7-2. Anything like that against Wade should be more than enough but the Machine was very good last week as well, himself averaging three figures in beating Adrian Lewis.
There was a time when Wade was seen as a real threat to Taylor but even playing well that time seems to have passed. The Machine hasn’t turned off the Power since 2010 when he triumphed in Championship League darts and he hasn’t prospered on stage since the 2009 Premier League group stages. Most importantly their last four meetings in this competition have ended in heavy wins for Taylor who has prospered 8-1, 8-4, 8-2 and 8-1 over the last two years.
The odds of 5/1 on a Wade win demonstrate the demise in his fortunes over Taylor and he will probably not get too close to The Power. There is not a great deal of value to get out of a Taylor win but a tempting bet is the 4/5 offered by Bwin on Taylor to score the highest checkout of the match. Wade is yet to have a three-figure checkout in the tournament whilst Taylor has three and is always deadly on two-darters so this looks a pretty safe bet.
Rob Thornton v Gary Anderson over 6.5 180s @ 11/10 with Boylesports
Michael van Gerwen winning after four legs @ 21/20 with Bet365
Phil Taylor highest checkout v James Wade @ 4/5 with Bwin
• Whitlock can return to form against Barney
• Barney can triumph in Dutch battle
• Lewis and Newton woes to continue
• Lewis can be Mr Maximum again
• Hammer nailed on to beat Wade
• Taylor to topple MVG again
• Premier League Darts Betting Preview