Nothing between Wade and Thornton
The Premier League road show comes to Nottingham on Thursday and the 10 men involved will want to emulate local hero Robin Hood with the accuracy of their missiles on the Capital FM Arena Stage.
There is still five weeks before the relegation cut-off point so there is no need to panic yet but it is certainly safe to say that there are some players currently loving the Premier League whilst some are feeling the strain somewhat.
Two men who will be feeling pretty care free meet first up on Thursday night as James Wade takes on the unbeaten debutant Robert Thornton. The Scotsman has been an incredible addition to the Premier League and has taken two wins and two draws from his four bouts so far leaving him fourth in the table currently. He is in the form of his life having scored an average of 109.33 in his rout of Gary Anderson last week and is proving everyone wrong who made him favourite for relegation pre-tournament.
Wade usually makes a slow start to the Premier League but has got going much more quickly this time around with five points from four games and consecutive three-figure averages that have seen him score a win over Adrian Lewis and pick up a draw last week against Phil Taylor.
If ever a match was a good candidate for a draw then this is it. Both men have shown brilliant form of late, Thornton slightly the better but in general you would say Wade is the better player than the Thorn so it all looks pretty level. Wade is favourite at 11/8 with Sky Bet with Thornton just behind at 6/4 with Sporting Bet but the draw is the most tempting at 7/2 with bet365.
An interesting way of giving yourself a better chance in this market is the draw after six legs rather than at the end of the match. For it to be 3-3 after six legs, Sky Bet offer 2/1 which looks a very decent price between these two very evenly matched players.
Second on stage in Nottingham are Raymond van Barneveld and Andy Hamilton who served up a couple of cracking matches in this event last year. Both clashes between the two were incredibly tight, one of which Barney edged 8-6 whilst the other ended in a draw.
This time around the Dutchman is looking in the better form of the two after he scored his third win from four against Simon Whitlock last week. Hamilton has not been playing badly though himself with two wins thus far leaving him very much in the running for another semi-final appearance.
It looks tough for him against Barney though who has been as consistent as anyone so far with a low average of just over 96 after four weeks which Hamilton may struggle to better. He does tend to stick with his opponents though even in defeat with his heavy loss to Michael van Gerwen last week being something of a rarity. With this in mind and given how close their games were last year the offer of 13/10 from Boyle Sports on over 11.5 legs looks a decent one. A 7-5 Barney win seems a very plausible outcome and this offers better value than the odds-on for a Barney win with any scoreline.
Things don’t get any easier for Adrian Lewis who finds himself bottom of the table with no points from four games with the low point coming last week in Exeter when he was hammered 7-3 by Wes Newton averaging under 85. Even with 10 points added to that average he will not have much of a chance against his opponent this week in Michael van Gerwen.
MVG has not had it all his own way with two draws and two wins so far but has looked as good as everyone was hoping he would be in his debut Premier League and if anyone is going to pile more misery on Lewis it is him.
The two players met at the World Championships and it was a classic contest that went all the way but that is not going to happen in Nottingham. MVG is 1/2 to win the match but to get some value out of it we can go quite adventurous on the handicap market. If Lewis plays anything like he did last week he could lose 7-0 so the 5/4 offered by Sky Bet on MVG with a -3.5 handicap looks pretty decent.
James Wade v Robert Thornton draw after six legs @ 2/1 with Sky Bet
Raymond van Barneveld v Andy Hamilton over 11.5 legs @ 13/10 with Boylesports
Michael van Gerwen (-3.5) to win @ 5/4 with Sky Bet
• End of the line for Newton
• Perfect time for Power v Barney
• Taylor to win big after woes
• Nothing between Hammer and Wizard
• Expect a Taylor backlash
• MVG to return to form in style
• Power to completely de-rail Flying Scotsman
• Pointless Lewis out to 100/1 for Premier League title