Raymond van Barneveld v Phil Taylor
Impressive wins against Robert Thornton and Simon Whitlock last week ensured a second place finish for Barney in the Premier League group stages. He finished just one point behind group winner MVG and three ahead of third-place Phil Taylor, which offers an indication of just how consistent the big Dutchman has been this campaign.
The Power, on the other hand, has been far from dependable: losing four and drawing four of his 16 matches, and failing to top the group for the first time in Premier League history.
What we can rely on is Barney seizing up at some point when playing against the world number one. He couldn’t close out the win when taking a 6-4 lead in their most recent meeting, failed to reproduce his early tournament form for too long when the pair met in the semi-finals of this year’s World Championships and hasn’t beaten Taylor on TV since the summer of 2008.
So despite Barney looking the much more consistent and accomplished player of the two over the past couple of months, I cannot advise a bet on him winning this one at odds of 3.00. Nor am I getting too excited about the 1.40 being offered on Taylor.
Instead I’ll advise a bet on the 180s market where we can get odds of 2.00 about there being fewer than 6.5 in the match. Over their last three matches Barney and Taylor have averaged just 1.33 maximums each, while The Power hit fewer Premier League maximums than any of the eight players who survived relegation at the midway point.
Best Bet: Under 6.5 180s @ 2.00
Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
Michael van Gerwen has been indisputably brilliant this season, but the head-to-head record between this pair, and the nature of recent meetings, mean that this could be a lot closer than the odds suggest.
For starters, James Wade has won two of the last four meetings, including a relatively comfortable 7-4 triumph earlier in this competition, while their semi-final clash in the 2013 World Championships was nip and tuck all the way. MVG eventually came out on top at Ally Pally, and gained revenge for his earlier Premier League defeat when they last met in Sheffield, but there is no value in backing him to win this one at odds of 1.34.
Although I do think that the Dutchman will eventually come out on top it could well be by a slender margin and the best betting option is to back Wade in the +2.5 handicap at odds of 1.90.
Best Bet: Wade +2.5 legs @ 1.90
After watching a repeat of the 2013 World Championship semi-finals I believe we could then be treated to a repeat of the final, and at odds of 2.10 in the overall winner market MVG gets the nod to exact some revenge over the Power.
The most impressive thing about Van Gerwen over the past 12-18 months is the way that he has used any defeat as a positive, and gone from strength to strength in the face of any adversity. Since losing that final four months ago he has won seven tour titles, topped the Premier League and beaten Taylor twice.
As mentioned above, he faces a stern examination against Wade, but whoever he comes up against in the final I’d strongly fancy his chances.
Best Bet: Van Gerwen to win 2013 Premier League @ 2.10