Mighty Mike to break the Machine
We're backing Michael van Gerwen to ease past James Wade and set-up a Premier League final clash with Phil Taylor.
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Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
The first semi-final pits the most electric force in world darts against a man who lit up the earlier stages of the event but has since found consistency hard to come by. MVG's figures throughout the competition have been exceptional and those who thought he might ease off the gas last week were wrong as he stormed to a 7-1 victory over Robert Thornton, producing a remarkable 105.35 average, hitting five 180s and 50 per cent of his doubles. On the same night, Wade did extremely well to close with a 14-dart leg and get a point with Phil Taylor and that sets him up for a return to the semis following last season's narrow defeat to the Power. It seems pretty clear that an average of just over 96 won't be good enough this time around if Mighty Mike arrives in the form he's held for weeks, but Wade only managed a shade over 98 when edging the first meeting of this pair in Glasgow, one van Gerwen has since avenged. MVG does have to prove that his explosive game can last the extended distance of these best-of-15 clashes but that shouldn't be a problem and I believe he'll win this comfortably granted a fast start. With that in mind the bet here is 5/6 van Gerwen -2.5 given that he's frequently covered that spread over the shorter distance - nine of his 11 wins have been by three or more legs - and Wade's three defeats on the spin prior to last week's draw all saw him fail to get within two of his conqueror. There'll be abundant pressure on his checking out in this one and the call has to be a comfortable MVG win.
Raymond van Barneveld v Phil Taylor
We've mentioned many times before on these pages the dominance Taylor has held over van Barneveld, and that's why he's a perfectly worthy 4/9 favourite. Barney ended the second phase of the tournament three points ahead of his old adversary, but history suggests that the only relevant statistics in head-to-heads between this pair are those taken from their clashes over the years. Rewind to Dublin a month ago and you may recall van Barneveld leading 3-1, 4-2, 5-3 and 6-4 before missing five darts for what would've been a first ever victory over Taylor in the Premier League. Barney was utterly dominant in the match, hitting six 180s to Taylor's zero, and should've won with legs to spare. Quite simply, Taylor is and has for some time been right in Raymond's mind and I have to doubt whether that can change at this stage of the event in what's set to be a packed O2 Arena. That being said, the quality of the darts van Barneveld has produced mean it's hard to back Taylor at the price and given that former colleague Reece Killworth tipped him to win the event from the outset, Betting Zone followers can simply sit back and hope he can go all the way once more.