Hammer home checkout profits
Our darts expert Reece Killworth is back to preview Week Three of the Premier League.
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The tie of the night sees Dutch pair Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld go head-to-head, but our man reckons that's a tie to savour without a wager.
Instead, he's looking to capitalise on Gary Anderson's poor finishing and the fast start to life in the Premier League made by Robert Thornton.
James Wade v Adrian Lewis
Having suffered back-to-back defeats in the opening two weeks of the season, Lewis is already in from the 7/1 I tipped him at for relegation to 11/4. Were this fixture last week I'd be opposing him - particularly with Wade an odds-against chance - but The Machine certainly didn't live up to his nickname as he put in a below-par performance in losing to a resurgent Andy Hamilton. The 91.54 average he produced was his highest of the tournament to date and that's a concern, though it's still higher than Lewis' best of 91.20. If both play to the best of their ability, we're in for a classic but we've seen nothing recently to suggest that'll be the case. These are two great players going through a bit of a trough at the moment and as such they represent flaky betting propositions. This looks one best avoided from a punter's perspective.
Robert Thornton v Wes Newton
I'll get straight to the point and say I'm surprised to see Thornton chalked up at odds-against for this one. He's exceeded my early expectations by going through the first two weeks unbeaten - seeing off an admittedly below-par Hamilton first up before holding Michael van Gerwen to a draw in front of that raucous Scottish crowd last week. Newton, meanwhile, has won just six legs so far in his Premier League debut season - not enough to win a match. He took four off Wade in Week One before being swept aside 7-2 by Raymond van Barneveld last week to leave him propping up the table. The quicker he can get a win on the board the better as he doesn't look the same player we've seen in majors in the last couple of years. Thornton has settled much the quicker into Premier League life and at 23/20 he's worth supporting.
Simon Whitlock v Phil Taylor
Whitlock was a wire away from delivering the goods for us in the checkout market last week (as well as hitting two 98s) but, while I may well live to regret it, I can't bring myself to back him this time around even with almost 10 lopped off the required mark. The layers are right to think he'll probably get fewer chances to go out in a match against a higher calibre of opponent but it's worth noting he has bettered a 93 finish in four of his last five against Taylor in the Premier League. Two averages below the 89 mark worry me, though, and he could well be on the receiving end of a hiding here. Yes, he doesn't usually need too many chances to notch that ton-plus finish but Taylor has rumbled ominously into form by following that opening-night draw against van Gerwen up with victory against Lewis and merits our respect as he should win well.
Michael van Gerwen v Raymond van Barneveld
Two weeks in and you can bet the demonstrative van Gerwen is twitchier than usual as he awaits his first Premier League victory. A draw against Taylor on the opening night wouldn't have concerned him too much but he'd have probably expected to beat Thornton even in front of that passionate Aberdeen crowd. Barney, for his part, has come flying out of the traps and is the only player bringing a 100 per cent record into Week Three. Make no mistake about it, though, this will be the sternest test he has faced to date and we'll know better where his game is right now after this one. That's not to talk down the two 100-plus averages he's produced so far, just that Anderson and Newton aren't as relentless as van Gerwen is sure to be on Thursday. With both players odds-against, rewards are there to be found - but I'd rather just enjoy the spectacle.
Andy Hamilton v Gary Anderson
Hamilton was much more like his old self as he beat Wade last week after his rollercoaster Week One display against Thornton. Coming from 5-1 down to 5-5 in that one hinted the old grinder was back but then he let that hard work go to waste in losing 7-5. Last week he was never headed by Wade after racing into a 5-0 lead. Anderson did enough to beat Whitlock on the same night but admitted after the game his doubling is frustrating even himself as he's nailing the big checkouts on the practice board but not taking that onto the match stage. Hamilton makes some appeal at 7/4 in the outright market but Anderson's scoring is certainly holding up and as such he - or the draw - can't be written out of the script. With a long game in prospect and given his opponent's continued struggles on this front, Hamilton has to be favoured in the finishing market - he's 11/10 with Blue Square to have the highest checkout while others (rightly in my view) offer that as an odds-on shot.