The Premier League Darts 2017 has almost completed its first phase and this week in Manchester we have two titans going head to head in the battle for the Playoffs.
Dutchmen Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld will clash on the oche on Thursday in a match that is closer than the Unibet darts betting odds suggest.
While world number one Van Gerwen is the major favourite here, Van Barneveld has proven this year that he can still box with the best.
Meanwhile, at the bottom Jelle Klaasen and Kim Huybrechts are both desperate for points as they battle to avoid the Phase 1 cut next week.
Here are the best darts betting tips for Premier League 8.
Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
First up in Manchester on Thursday is Van Gerwen, who will play twice on the night. That is due to a back injury that forced him out of Round 5 in Exeter, meaning Dave Chisnall had to play twice. Chisnall has this week off. Van Gerwen had a rocky return to the oche with a narrow 7-5 win over Huybrechts — but last week he was back at his best with a 7-4 demolition of Phil Taylor. Van Gerwen averaged 100.50 last Thursday and the only man to better him was Van Barneveld (103.71 in a 7-2 trouncing of Gary Anderson).
James Wade, meanwhile, is having an excellent tournament and sits third in the table. However, he has not won any of his last six matches against Van Gerwen and is 1.22 to lose here.
Kim Huybrechts v Gary Anderson
Huybrechts need to win here or he is out of the Premier League. The Belgian is yet to claim victory but does boast three draws. A win would put him just one point behind eighth-place Chisnall with one game remaining. Can he do it? Well, he has beaten the Scot in three of their last four games. That included quarter-final clashes at the European Darts Open and the Gibraltar Trophy last year.
Huybrechts is a solid darts player but the league this season has not been kind to him. A draw against the former world champion at 5.50 isn’t a bad shout, especially considering Anderson lost 7-2 to Van Barneveld last week and was guilty of missing his crucial doubles.
Peter Wright v Phil Taylor
Taylor beat Peter Wright 10-5 at the United Masters back in January — the same scoreline he secured in the Champions League of Darts over the Scot last September. Wright has earned wins over Taylor in long-haul games, with first-to-11 and first-to-16 legs more favourable to the Scot.
Taylor remains an impactful player even with growing fatigue at the oche. And in the Premier League first-to-seven matches are no problem for the record world champion. It’s hard to predict which way this clash will go but the likelihood is that we will see plenty of legs in Manchester. Neither man has inflicted a thrashing on the other since Taylor’s 4-0 win over Wright in the 2015 World Cup of Darts.
This match is 2.12 to go over 11.5 legs.
Jelle Klaasen v Adrian Lewis
This is unlikely to be a classic on Thursday night, with Klaasen consistently the poorest player in the tournament. He has averaged just 93.75 over the first seven matches and is rock bottom of the league. However, a 7-3 win over Dave Chisnall in Brighton in Round 4 was proof that Klaasen can throw consistently on the big stage. And Lewis has been just as average of Chisnall this year. Klaasen boasts a 12-10 winning record over Lewis and has claimed four of their last five meetings. A win for the Dutchman here is priced at 4.50.
Raymond van Barneveld v Michael van Gerwen
The big match of the night is left until last, giving Van Gerwen as much time as possible to recharge from his clash with Wade. And Van Gerwen will need as much energy as he can against Barney, who is upsetting the odds almost every week — although not always for the right reasons.
Van Barneveld was tipped to finish in the bottom third of the Premier League table this year but he currently sits handsomely in fourth place. A win against Anderson last week and the draw with Wright in Round 4 have been his best results this season. Unfortunately, however, Van Barneveld also has a defeat up his sleeve. The 7-2 loss to Chisnall in Round 5 was a real surprise.
Who will win on Thursday really depends on which Barney turns up. Van Gerwen certainly has the form edge, having beaten Barney in each of their last four meetings. But Van Barneveld drew 6-6 win Van Gerwen in the Premier League last year and a repeat result is available at 6.00.
Van Gerwen is one of only two men with a +100 average so far this season and if he throws like that again he will be difficult to stop. However, Barney is a big numbers player too, with 120 100+ throws already this term — most than anyone else by some considerable distance.