Andy Hamilton v Robert Thornton
Robert Thornton comes into the first week of the Premier League with the advantage of having been busy at the PDC World Cup of Darts last week. But that shouldn’t hold too much sway against a player of Andy Hamilton’s professionalism.
While most players will have enjoyed the downtime between the conclusion of the World Championships and now, you can be certain that The Hammer has been grinding away at the oche. The Englishman also has Premier League experience and that can be a big positive for him.
Although these players are all used to playing in front of big crowds at the major tournaments, the Premier League is another notch up on the raucous scale. All things considered, Hamilton looks the best bet at odds of 2.35.
Best Bet: Hamilton to win @ 2.35
James Wade v Wes Newton
Wes Newton is another Premier League debutant, but he has perhaps been handed a slightly more favourable opening night tie.
James Wade is the Premier League’s perennial slow starter. Last year it took him until week four to get his first points on the board. The year before he lost four of his first five matches and in 2010 he didn’t win a match until week six.
So there is a good chance here for Newton to pick up two points on his debut night in the Premier League. As the outsider at odds of 2.45, this could be the best bet of the evening.
Best Bet: Newton to win @ 2.45
Raymond van Barneveld v Gary Anderson
Third up on night one, Raymond van Barneveld and Gary Anderson meet in a repeat of the World Championship last-16 match from December. On that occasion the big Dutchman romped to a 4-0 victory en route to the semi-finals, simultaneously marking his return to big-time darts.
Both players crashed out of the World Cup of Darts at the second round stage, with their respective nations each suffering shock defeats. After such disappointing performances, each will feel that they’ll need to up their game to get anything from this one.
Over the slightly shortened race-to-six-legs format, we’re likely to see more draws than usual, and this could well be the first of the campaign. Back both players to take a point at odds of 4.50.
Best Bet: The Draw @ 4.50
Simon Whitlock v Adrian Lewis
Simon Whitlock, alongside Australian teammate Paul Nicholson, was another to suffer a shock defeat at the PDC World Cup of Darts at the weekend, while Adrian Lewis, perhaps somewhat fortunately, went on to lift the trophy.
Jackpot was in dreadful form in the early part of the tournament, losing to Japan’s Sho Katsumi, Wales’ Richie Burnett and Belgium’s Kim Huybrechts in three of his four singles matches.
His form did pick up notably in the latter stages of the final though and Lewis has since commented that the game time over the weekend helped him hone his throw ahead of this clash.
Whitlock won both clashes in the Premier League last season, but as the outsider of the pair at odds of 2.40, I feel that Lewis is the value bet.
Best Bet: Lewis to win @ 2.40
Phil Taylor v Michael van Gerwen
The PDC know how to package a tournament and they haven’t missed a trick here by scheduling a repeat of the 2013 PDC World Championship final, between the two hottest properties in the game, for the opening night of the Premier League.
Many, myself included, anticipated that this winter would see the changing of the guard at Alexandra Palace. For long parts of the festive period it looked as though it might, as Michael van Gerwen continued his rich vein of form and Phil Taylor struggled to find a rhythm.
But when the two came to loggerheads in the final, The Power flexed his muscle and reasserted his position at the top of the tree. Not that MVG was outplayed, more that he was out-thought.
Still, we’re getting a fraction above Evens about the world number one and 16-time world champion. I suspect that isn’t something that we will see too much of this Premier League, so we’ll take advantage while we can.
Best Bet: Taylor to win @ 2.05
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