Back Barney for Whitlock win
Our darts expert Reece Killworth is back to preview week four of the McCoy's Premier League season.
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Andy Hamilton's finishing helped us eke out a small profit last week, making it two from two with our weekly previews, while our ante-post fancies are also going well in the early stages of the campaign.
As the darting jamboree heads to Exeter this week, Raymond van Barneveld is the main man in our staking plan, while we're on the hunt for maximums aplenty as Robert Thornton faces fellow Scot Gary Anderson first up.
Robert Thornton v Gary Anderson
Thornton remains unbeaten in his debut Premier League season but back-to-back draws mean he's closer to the bottom of the table than the top - in terms of position - heading to Exeter. Anderson, meanwhile, is directly below him after a second defeat in three matches against Hamilton last time out. As I detailed last week, it's missed doubles that are killing Anderson and on that basis I just can't advise anyone to back him right now. Though a draw with Michael van Gerwen is clearly no disgrace, Thornton can't seem to get himself over the line, though - don't forget he nearly conspired not to win from 5-1 up against Andy Hamilton in week one - and the draw will have its supporters. But the bet I like here is in the total 180s market. Thornton's maximum stats read 5-4-5 so far while Anderson's are 2-3-5. For those too lazy to do the (simple) maths, that's combined totals of 7-7-10. It's a bonus, then, to see more than 6.5 180s at 11/10 with Boylesports. Get on.
Andy Hamilton v Michael van Gerwen
Hamilton has ground himself to two successive victories after his opening-night defeat to Thornton and that sees him well placed to push on for another play-off appearance. We'll know better how he's situated a fortnight (and a bit!) from now, though, as he faces each of the current top three back to back with van Gerwen followed in the opposing corner by Raymond van Barneveld then Phil Taylor. After opening with back-to-back draws, van Gerwen roared to a 7-3 victory over Barney last week to climb into third in the table and he's one of only three players unbeaten. He was also in scintillating form in Crawley over the weekend, picking up £12,000 for two days' work with back-to-back floor victories. That hasn't always been a blessing when players have returned to Premier League duty but you'd have to fancy him to win comfortably, though the prices and Hamilton's combative nature mean I'll swerve a bet in this one.
James Wade v Phil Taylor
Wade may have felt the description of his win over Adrian Lewis as "machine-like" was a bit cheesy given his nickname but it was certainly on the money. An average just north of 100 was enough to do for Lewis and gave Wade some upward momentum after his defeat by Hamilton the previous week. I need to see more consistency from him before he becomes a more attractive betting proposition, though, and certainly can't back him even at 5/1 against Taylor. 'The Power' made it a good week for my ante-post tips in Bournemouth with his thumping victory over Simon Whitlock taking him to the top of the table and it's hard to see anything other than a victory for the great man here. Taking their last play-off match out of the head-to-head, Taylor has won 32 of the last 40 Premier League legs between the pair. You can get odds-against Taylor -3.5 but if Wade gets out of the traps, four legs certainly aren't beyond him. This looks another to swerve from a betting perspective.
Wes Newton v Adrian Lewis
As I mentioned above, last week was a good one for my ante-post tips, and the 7/1 we got on Lewis to be relegated gets shorter by the week - he's now the 5/4 second-favourite behind his opponent on Thursday night. Lewis is the only player yet to notch a single point, though at least from his perspective there was an upward movement in his legs won last week from three to four. Make no mistake - this is crunch time for him. Newton only has a point to his name (from his draw with Thornton last week) and Lewis faces van Gerwen next. Were he to lose those two he'd be right in the mire - if he isn't already. After two nervous performances, Newton looked more settled last week against Thornton and I'd be keen to get with him in the double-chance market were it even a shade of odds-on but sadly it's 4/6. Lewis is such a talent he could hit his straps one week from nowhere and as such I'll stick with having opposed him ante-post and hope Newton can get one over him this week.
Raymond van Barneveld v Simon Whitlock
What's not to like about van Barneveld at odds-against for this one? Yes, his Premier League record against Whitlock isn't that great, but I think the layers have overreacted to his defeat against van Gerwen last week. Granted the 7-3 scoreline doesn't look great in the cold light of day but it could so easily have been different; Barney missed at least one dart at a double in four of the seven legs his countryman won. He averaged 96 on the back of two ton-plus marks in the previous fortnight so is certainly in good nick. Whitlock did get into three figures on the average front last week but only took two legs off Taylor - and that came on the back of two sub-89 averages. Again, I think his price here is an overreaction to that as he's still only above Newton and Lewis in the table while van Barneveld is up on Taylor's coat tails. All in all, van Barneveld at 11/10 looks the call - he's (rightly in my view) odds-on elsewhere.