Expect maximums in final three games
Depending on what has gone on in the first half of the evening James Wade will know that either a win over Phil Taylor will see him through to the semi-finals or it still might not. Whichever way though he needs to come out and do his best to beat the Power, something he hasn’t done since October 2010 and hasn’t done in the Premier League since February 2009.
The Machine came as close as he could have done to dethroning Taylor earlier this competition but the match ended in a draw. Back then it seemed nailed-on that he would reach the last four but an alarming slump in form has seen Wade on the verge of missing out. Three consecutive losses, including poor performances last week against Whitlock and Hamilton has seen qualification out of Wade’s hands and he could not have asked for a tougher opponent in a match he cannot afford to lose.
The Power has been as inconsistent as we have ever seen him in the Premier League but his last three outings, in comparison to Wade’s, have been sensational, averaging over 100 in each and winning them all comfortably. Taylor can only finish second or third which makes little difference but motivation is never a problem for him and he will still be firing. He has had a pretty poor return of maximums in the competition so far but with the pressure off and playing well then three or more is certainly well within reach. He is 11/10 with Sky Bet to hit over 2.5 on Thursday night and this looks a very good offer.
Then it is crunch time for Robert Thornton who may by this point be in the box seat for qualification, and he will need to be as he takes on Michael van Gerwen. The Dutchman is near enough guaranteed to top the table but will not want to risk anything and will be going all out for the win to make sure of it.
The confidence is sky high in the Van Gerwen camp and there is no real situation where you can envisage a poor performance. Thornton will either pressure him or he won’t, it doesn’t seem to affect MVG and he will rattle in the big scores nonetheless. He has hit more maximums than anyone else this campaign and he is evens to hit at least four more on Thursday which looks a great offer.
If the predictions to date go to plan then the final match of the night will be crucial to who takes the final play-off spot. Wade will be on 16 points, Thornton on 17 and Whitlock on 16 as the Aussie returns to the stage to take on Raymond van Barneveld.
It could not be more delicately poised if this were to be the case as a win for the Wizard would see him through, a draw probably not and a loss certainly not. Barney would have nothing to play for but he has been playing superbly of late so even without full motivation he will be a force to be reckoned with.
Whitlock has picked up his form having won four of his last five matches so there is not a lot to choose between the two. History is little help either with Whitlock only very narrowly edging the head-to-head stats and the Dutchman having won the last three between them.
What has gone on before will have such a bearing on this match that it is almost impossible to say what will happen without knowing. The Wizard may well have to put in a big performance though so we should back him to hit the maximums when he has to. He is already averaging over two 180s a game and for him to hit three or more is at 6/5 with William Hill so we should go with that.
Phil Taylor over 2.5 maximums @ 11/10 with Sky Bet
Michael van Gerwen over 3.5 180s @ evens with William Hill
Simon Whitlock over 2.5 180s @ 6/5 with William Hill