The premier league heads to Aberdeen this week following on from a superb opening week which saw some notable performances and sets the competition up nicely as we look ahead to another week of top matches. Before we delve into this week’s matches, let’s take the time to look back on what we can learn about the 10 players from last week.
The Hammer showed all his battling qualities to come back from a slow start to pull level in his match with Thornton but will disappointed he couldn’t grab a point as produced two poor final legs to lose 7-5. Missed doubles early in the piece were ultimately his downfall but he also didn’t score with the consistency of Thornton. His doubling is normal a stronger part of his game than his showing last week so he will be looking for improvements there going forward as well as tightening up his scoring.
The Thorn was quick out of the blocks last week raced into a 5-1 lead despite losing the first leg, despite a fight-back from Hamilton he was able to hang on for a 7-5 victory. His victory was built around three factors, Hamilton’s early missed doubles, his 3 ton plus checkouts coupled with a 54% doubling success and his heavier scoring than Hamilton. It was a very confident debut but he will know that tougher challenges lay in wait for him and he may not be afforded the chances he was given by Hamilton in future matches.
It was far from a happy debut for Wes as he struggled in all areas of his game last week, he didn’t score with any consistency to pressurise Wade and his doubling was poor, 17% is not going to cut in most events but in the Premier League it will see you lose a lot of matches. The big worry for me with Wes following this defeat is confidence, as Wade was below par so it was a missed opportunity and may dent his confidence. He needs to sharpen up his doubling particularly when he has 2 or 3 darts in hand at a double.
Wade was clearly disappointed with his performance despite beating Newton and he is frustrated that the extra hours he is spending practicing are not reflected in his performances on stage. That said he is finding a way of winning matches and that is all that matters in this competition. He has been clinical on his doubles in recent months and this is one of the main reasons for his victories, he will be aiming to improve his scoring in upcoming matches.
I think the best description of Anderson’s current form is patchy, unfortunately he is not brilliant one match and poor the next but brilliant one leg and poor the next which makes it hard for him to win many matches. His main failing is pressure doubles which he consistently struggles to take out but last week he only hit 6 scores of 140 or more which is a big worry, as this is normally his strong suit. Unless he finds some consistency, he is facing a struggle to make it beyond week 9.
Raymond Van Barneveld
Barney produced the stand out performance last week, he was the only player with a three-figure average and he looked extremely comfortable in doing so. He actually could have averaged a couple of points higher had it not been for occasional tardiness on the doubles. The important was that he got the win and put a marker down for his intentions in this event, one slight concern was his comments about the crowd getting to Anderson, sporting it was but not the mindset of a winner for me.
It was far from a vintage Whitlock performance but he ground out a victory against lacklustre Lewis. His scoring was particularly poor but he ensured that was not problematic by being clinical on his three dart checkouts and overall doubling. He will know from his experience last year that points and momentum are the big factors in the competition and by beating Lewis last week, he has ensured he has made a positive start in both respects.
Has the bubble burst for Lewis? It is probably too soon to say that but he is certainly in the midst of protracted period of poor form, how this is to be arrested remains to be unclear. To his credit, there was little in the way of the cockiness or arrogance previously displayed by Lewis but 18% on his doubles is shocking and needs to be looked at. He is too talented to continue playing this poorly and over a short format can blitz opponents but there seems to be no flow in his game currently.
Michael Van Gerwen
MVG will know he missed a chance to beat Taylor last week but will also appreciate that missed doubles by Taylor early doors allowed him to get his nose ahead in the first half of the match. Overall he’ll be satisfied with his performance but will want to tighten up on his doubles as he continues to have phases where he misses doubles in bunches, the level of scoring he showed against Taylor will see him most of his remaining 8 matches.
Taylor was guilty of failing to capitalise on a quick start to the match from the scoring perspective as he missed a batch of doubles to win 2 of the opening 4 sets that would have put him 3-1 up not 3-1 down. He will not be too unhappy with his overall doubling as he ended the match with a 33% success rate, which he will take after missing 6 attempts at doubles early doors. He would like that have hit more 140 plus scores and will certainly be looking at his first dart as it blocked a number of times last week.
Onto this weeks matches and my predictions for them;
Wes Newton Vs Raymond Van Barneveld
Based on last week’s performances this looks a complete mismatch and it could well prove to be that way with Barney showing no signs of allowing his form to dip and Newton looks like he may be out of depth in this competition right now. It is hard to forecast anything other than a comfortable Barney but I would like to see Newton perform better than last week. Prediction: 7-3 Barney
Andy Hamilton Vs James Wade
This is a big match for both players, Hamilton will know that the longer he stays winless then the harder it will be to finish in the top 8 and avoid relegation. For Wade he will want to continue his momentum and move onto 4 points and he will have marked this down as a game he needs to win before the competition started. I can see this being a tight match and as much as expect Hamilton to scrap away, I think Wade’s ability to win playing poorly will see him through. Prediction: 7-5 Wade
Gary Anderson Vs Simon Whitlock
I don’t think either player will be delighted with their performances last week so will have points to prove here. Anderson clearly needs the confidence boost of a win more than Whitlock and with the vocal support of the Aberdeen crowd behind him, he will fancy his chances. That said Whitlock has a good record against Anderson in recent meetings and will punish any missed doubles by Anderson, he will be hoping to up his scoring from last week, and I am taking him to do so and win with a degree of ease. Prediction 7-4 Whitlock
Phil Taylor Vs Adrian Lewis
Clearly both players will be well up for this match, Lewis seems to thrive on playing the big guns on stage at the moment and Taylor is always hungry to beat his former protégé. Lewis has a very good record against Taylor in this competition since becoming World Champion; he has beaten him twice in the league stage, drawn once and also beaten him in the semi finals in 2011. However, Taylor will be well aware of this and will want to make a statement to MVG, I think he will. Prediction 7-3 Taylor
Robert Thornton Vs Michael Van Gerwen
Thornton was impressive on his debut last week and will feel that he could have been more impressive had he put the game to bed with a bigger winning margin than 7-5 but he faces a different level of challenge this week. Van Gerwen showed a level of scoring unmatched by anyone last week and only tardiness on his doubles prevented a victory and three-figure average. Put simply if he scores like that this week he wins with ease. Prediction 7-2 Van Gerwen
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“Greatest does not get handed out; it is attained and retained by effort, patience and perseverance”
The Sportsman 2013