MVG can hurt Taylor semi-final chances
The Premier League enters a night like it has never experienced before this week in Sheffield and as such it may be a little difficult to predict just how the players will perform as they step up to the oche in the Steel City.
It is unusual for players to have to play twice in the same night in this competition but it has happened before, what has never been the case is bringing the players out now without the threat of relegation being on the cards as the two weakest players have now been cast aside.
This will not have affected the likes of Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld over the first half of the tournament but Simon Whitlock and Adrian Lewis will have been living in fear for nine straight weeks and with that now lifted to an extent it will be interesting to see how they perform.
It is the Wizard who is first on in South Yorkshire when he takes on the continually sensational Robert Thornton who added yet another feather to his now peacock-like cap last week when he downed The Power. Yet another ton-plus average from the Scot was enough to see off the defending champ and puts him in fourth and just one point off the lead in the table.
Whitlock in comparison has been anything but magical losing his last three games without an average as high as 92 in the process. He only survived relegation thanks to Gary Anderson and Wes Newton somewhat fluffing their lines in Brighton and will need to seriously improve if he has designs on anything above eighth place.
On form there is only one winner, however, with the pressure lifted from Whitlock and perversely pressure now on Thornton as the public and the man himself will now start thinking he should reach the semi-final, things could go against The Thorn. This could well be a case of reading far too much into things though and on this form the fact Boylesports are offering 6/5 on a Thornton win is just too good to turn down and should be backed to the hilt.
Next on is the always entertaining game between James Wade and Adrian Lewis, a pair that rarely disappoint on this and any other stage. Lewis looked dead and buried after four weeks of the competition but ended up two points clear of the drop having found some form, however, he is still some way off the level of performance of Wade who has been consistently very impressive.
His five wins and two draws from nine games is as good a record as anyone in the tournament and it has been largely thanks to his incredible finishing. The Machine is living up to his moniker as he is averaging an unbelievable 52% on doubles over his nine contests, his nearest competitor in those stakes being Thornton who is over 10% behind him.
Lewis has upped his game in recent weeks but it is difficult to argue with the standard Wade has been setting and The Machine does tend to reach his peak when faced with Jackpot. Even at an odds-on price I would be tempted to back Wade and given that Sky Bet are offering 11/10 then he is a must.
The third bout is worthy of headlining any arena as Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor battle it out in a repeat of the World Championship final. However, there will be some thinking it will not be a classic again with MVG steamrolling the 16-time world champ.
The Dutchman’s form has been out of this world in recent weeks with his lowest average in his last four Premier League matches being the 101.52 that beat Wade 7-4. He finds himself top of the Premier League, top of the Pro Tour Order of Merit and second in the world rankings, there is no question he is the deadliest player on the circuit at the moment.
Taylor, in comparison, has not been at his best by any means and has already lost as many games as he ever has done in any Premier League, and there are still seven matches to be played. The three men have all played very well to beat him and The Power has certainly put in some stunning displays but players know that their A-game will likely beat Taylor’s now which was not the case in the past. MVG knows this as well as anyone and has made his A-game such a frighteningly regular occurrence that it is hard to back anyone against him, including the great man of Stoke-on-Trent.
Like the first two matches the favourite is odds-against which is a rare treat in this competition and MVG at 11/8 with Boyle Sports looks a price too good to turn down on current form. Taylor is 6/4 with and there will be plenty thinking that is a fantastic price but Van Gerwen is just too strong at the moment.
Robert Thornton to win @ 6/5 with Boyle Sports
James Wade to win @ 11/10 with Sky Bet
Michael van Gerwen to win @ 11/8 with Boyle Sports
• Whitlock great value against Wade
• Barney could batter Lewis
• Sorry Lewis set for fourth straight defeat
• Wade the value bet against Barney
• Taylor must beat Hamilton
• Whitlock is back in form
• Hammer and Barney set for another tight one
• In form Newton to keep winning
• Whitlock and MVG value for big finish