I was watching the Premier League last Thursday and quietly pondering how Barry Hearn has managed to make some slightly overweight blokes chucking some tungsten at felt so utterly and consistently enthralling. Flashy graphics, loud music and overexcited commentators go a long way to make the Premier League what it is. However, I could not help but conclude that it was the quality of our top darts players these days rather than the flashiness of Hearn that makes the sport so unbelievable to watch. If anyone on the site hasn’t tuned in, I’d really recommend it – you’ll be surprised.
Last week was elimination week and we lost Kim Huybrechts and Peter Wright. Somehow Barney managed to negotiate his way out of a whole heap of trouble and condemn Peter to relegation. The valiant efforts of Kim (who to my mind never played a really poor game) ultimately went unrewarded. As we reach the latter stages of the competition, this week should see an increase in the averages, closer games and more excitement! We’re off to Sheffield…
Adrian Lewis v James Wade
This is the battle of opposites; Mr inconsistent v Mr consistent. Wade’s average hasn’t really deviated from the mid-to-high 90s throughout the tournament. He tips up every week, sticks one treble in every throw and takes out about half of his doubles. Lewis by contrast tends to be a bit flakey… well, very flakey.
However, I’m a big Lewis fan and his performance last week has given me confidence. Beating Peter Wright (who desperately needed a win) 7-4 was impressive. However, it is the fact that he took out 7 of his 12 darts at double that really encourages me. Also, his inconsistency is only really limited to the finishing – his averages have been pretty consistently good. His 96.29 average last week was his lowest for 4 weeks!
It’s hard to build a strong case against Wade. His 100 losing average against MVG still demonstrated he was playing well and as always he looked good on the doubles taking 4/8. However, the reason he lost to MVG was he was outscored. Wade just doesn’t hit enough 140s and 180s to really threaten the top players. Lewis should outscore Wade so should get the first sight at the doubles more often than not.
It should be a close game and there was a draw between these two earlier so I think it’s worth covering the draw here.
Lewis to win draw no bet (10/11 – betvictor)
Gary Anderson v Dave Chisnall
Really interesting match in the offing here. Chizzy is coming off the back of wins against Taylor and Lewis. Anderson has arguably been the standout player of the Premier League (MVG would have a lot to say about it) and is the deserved favourite. At 8/11, I’m not willing to get involved in backing Gary though. Chizzy’s just been playing too well. Therefore, I’m looking elsewhere for value.
Firstly, I think this match will go all the way. Anderson should get at least 6 games on the board. He looks imperious on his own throw with 140+ scores a regularity. He’s unbeaten in 4 Premier League games and will be looking to kick on after dropping points to Barney. As already mentioned, Chizzy’s confidence will be high with back-to-back victories. So expect at the very least a 7-4 win either way.
With a large number of games likely, I think it’s worth backing 180s here. These two are notorious for hitting maximums. Chizzy hit 4 against Lewis in only 9 games which is very impressive! Gary hit 7 (yes, 7!) last week against Barney and that followed up 4 against Bunting and 5 against Huybrechts. The two should feed off each other so expect a lot of maximums.
Over 7.5 180s (6/5 – Bet365)
Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld
It’s this old classic again! No doubt Sky will attempt to depict this as the greatest sporting rivalry of all time but in truth, it has delivered some classics (particularly earlier in the 2015 Premier League). Remember Taylor’s losing 115.8 average?
I think this will be relatively straightforward for Phil if I’m honest. Losing to big rivals doesn’t sit well with Phil and I think he’ll be absolutely desperate to put the record straight. His form is in some ways irrelevant because over the years he’s just raised his game again and again for these clashes. His loss to Chizzy was a blip but this followed an average of 104 against Kim Huybrechts.
Taylor is still the boss; it’s still 11 from the last 16 in the head to head and I expect him to reassert his dominance over the Dutchman. To average over 102.5 is a big mark but I think Phil is more than capable.
Phil Taylor to average over 102.5 (5/6 – betway)
Stephen Bunting v Michael van Gerwen
This is a match where it’s really possible to see only one winner. 2/5 is a very fair price for Michael to win this and I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from backing it. However, Stephen is prone to springing a surprise so we’ll look elsewhere.
Stephen has hit 11 180s in his last three matches (35 legs). Michael has hit 13 180s in his last three matches (31 legs). While MVG has been in cruise control, Stephen has been hitting more maximums than he has all season. This can’t last and I think MVG (who is naturally a more consistent 180 hitter) will prosper in this maximum dual. My confidence in this bet was only added to when I noticed when I noticed MVG had been smashing in quite a few 180s at the German Darts Masters at the weekend (we won this event).
I think the pricing is totally wrong for this. Some go as short as 4/6 for MVG to win this which is more like it.
MVG to hit the most 180s (10/11 – Stan James)
Dave Chisnall v James Wade
My immediate thoughts on this match are that these are two players who have in the past been victims of the curse of the second game. By this I mean, in the later stages of the Premier League (given elimination) two players are required to play twice. This generally sees a dip in averages and 180 hitting.
James Wade is not a big 180 hitter. He failed to hit a 180 last week and has only managed 4 in the last 5 weeks. We can therefore assume that he isn’t going to contribute a huge number to this mark.
Chizzy does (as already detailed) hit a few 180s. However, if he hits 3 or maybe even 4, I don’t think that it’ll be enough to cover this bet given Wade’s inability to hit maximums.
Added to this is the dreaded second game syndrome which often renders players incapable of hitting big scores. For me, this is the bet of the night. Everything points towards a relative drought of 180s.
Under 5.5 180s (23/20 – Boylesports)