Michael van Gerwen v Andy Hamilton
Michael van Gerwen was caught a little off guard last week when losing 7-5 to Simon Whitlock. However, he has since bounced back to win an unprecedented fifth UK Open qualifier at the weekend, whitewashing Mervyn King in Sunday’s final.
When MVG and Andy Hamilton met earlier in the Premier League season, the Dutchman was a comfortable 7-2 winner, and I expect another easy victory for the league leader this Thursday.
Last week’s defeat to Robert Thornton all but ended the Hammer’s play-off hopes, and his destiny could be mathematically confirmed by the end of this week’s play.
Best Bet: Van Gerwen -3.5 legs @ 2.0
James Wade v Simon Whitlock
James Wade was surprisingly below par in his match with Raymond van Barneveld last week, losing 7-2 against the Dutchman and averaging a relatively mediocre 97.00. A similar performance against Simon Whitlock this week and he is likely to be facing back-to-back defeats.
The Aussie upped his game considerably last Thursday to beat MVG and then push Phil Taylor all the way later in the evening. Although his chances of qualifying for the semis remain slim, he does still have an outside chance.
Wade has been the much more consistent over the course of the Premier League, but Whitlock is coming into his game now. It may be too late for a semi-final berth, but not too late for us to be backing him to win matches.
Best Bet: Whitlock to win @ 2.55
Robert Thornton v Phil Taylor
Robert Thornton has already beaten Phil Taylor once in this year’s Premier League, and has won three of their last four meetings in front of the television cameras. If he can make that four out of five this Thursday then he’ll be in prime position for a top-four finish.
The problem for the Thorn is that Taylor has rediscovered some form over the past couple of weeks. The Power has won three and lost none of his last four matches, while consistently averaging over 100, to move up to second position in the table.
I wouldn’t write off Thornton completely, but I can’t advise a bet on anything other than a Taylor win. The Power’s odds are suitably low at 1.45, so for a slightly better return we’ll go for the Thorn to outscore his opponent in the 180s stakes.
Best Bet: Thornton to his most 180s @ 1.67
Raymond van Barneveld v Adrian Lewis
Barney impressed in his win over James Wade last week and the two points gained put him in a solid position to qualify for the semi-finals of this event.
Meanwhile, Adrian Lewis’s Premier League nightmare continued with consecutive defeats to Taylor and Thornton, averaging 92 then 86 in the two losses.
I said last week that if Lewis lost to Thornton I’d wash my hands of him in this tournament. And I’ll stick to those words by piling into Barney here. At odds of 1.45 in the Match Odds market the Dutchman is a comfortable bet, while there’s room for a greater return by betting on the handicap market.
Best Bet: Van Barneveld -2.5 legs @ 1.8
James Wade v Andy Hamilton
If James Wade or Andy Hamilton don’t pick up the two points in their respective first matches of the evening, then they each have an opportunity to put things right with a win here.
The Machine has lost his last three matches against Hamilton, including in the Premier League earlier this season. In fact, he hasn’t beaten the Hammer in their last six meetings.
On the one previous occasion when Wade has been required to play two matches on the same night, he was slightly disappointing in the second match. Because of that and his poor record against this Thursday’s opponent, I think we can take him on.
Best Bet: Hamilton (Draw No Bet) @ 3.60