The general rule of thumb on Premier League finals night is that if Phil Taylor wins his semi-final, he lifts the Premier League trophy. Of the five Premier League finals he has played The Power has emerged victorious on each occasion. However, the 15-times World Champion can be vulnerable in the semis having lost at the last-four stage twice in the last three years.
Taylor is a 1.36 chance to win the Premier League for a sixth time this Thursday, but if you are determined to back him then it may be worthwhile waiting until after the semis where he faces a tricky match-up with James Wade. The omens aren’t good for Wade either as the two players who have previously beaten Taylor in the semis – Mervyn King (2009) and Adrian Lewis (2011) – have subsequently gone on to lose the final. Perhaps it is the rank outsider of the quartet, Andy Hamilton, who, at odds of 17.00, is the value bet.
Whitlock v Hamilton
Simon Whitlock and Andy Hamilton are making a habit of meeting each other in the latter stages of major tournaments, with the Englishman having much the better of the exchanges. This will be the third time in the last 12 months that these two men have locked horns in a major event; and on the previous two occasions The Hammer has come from behind to take the victory.
Hamilton has also had the better of the meetings in this year’s Premier League with the spoils shared in week seven of the group stages and the Englishman winning 8-4 on the penultimate night to keep his play-off hopes alive. Whitlock will certainly need to overcome some major psychological barriers in order to reach his first ever Premier League final.
With the dreaded draw now taken out of the equation Hamilton has to be backed at the 2.85 on offer for him to win his semi-final match, along with a much smaller-stakes play on the tournament winner market at odds of 17.00.
Taylor v Wade
It would be unfair to say that Phil Taylor faltered towards the end of the Premier League group stages, but with his top spot secure he certainly took his foot off the gas with ‘only’ two victories in his final four matches. The question now is whether he can rediscover his very best form for finals night, and if he doesn’t can James Wade step up to the mark and take advantage.
As mentioned above Taylor has been vulnerable in recent Premier League semi-finals. The Power topped last season’s group stage with 13 wins and just one defeat, then lost in the semi-finals 8-3 to Adrian Lewis, two years earlier he also topped the group then lost to Mervyn King in the semis.
At odds of 1.18 there is no value in backing Taylor to win his semi; especially against a player of Wade’s quality. The Machine has the class and experience on this stage – he won the title in 2009 – to go toe-to-toe with any player, including Taylor. Odds of 4.75 on a Wade victory are worth a small nibble, while the 2.00 in the +3.5 handicap market is also worth a serious punt.
Taylor could quite easily stroll to a sixth Premier League title this Thursday night, but the value in the betting lies in opposing The Power. We’ve seen some vulnerabilities in his game of late and Wade is a player more than capable of exposing them.fianls
Best Bets: Hamilton to beat Whitlock @ 2.85; Wade (+3.5) to beat Taylor @ 2.00; Hamilton to win the Premier League @ 17.00.