Raymond van Barneveld looks a great price to upset Adrian Lewis in Leeds
Raymond van Barneveld will step onto the Premier League stage as the defending champion for the first time on Thursday night, and he should do so in style by upsetting the odds to defeat Adrian Lewis in West Yorkshire.
Barney has enjoyed himself in the Premier League over the last two years, finishing second in the table on both occasions and, of course, going on to win it last time out. In nine years of the tournament, the Dutchman has reached the semi-finals seven times which is some achievement.
Compare this to Adrian Lewis’ record in the Premier League and the Englishman would be slightly embarrassed. The double world champ has made the semi-finals just twice in seven Premier League campaigns which is surprisingly poor for a man of his talent.
14 times these two have met in the Premier League, with Barney winning nine and drawing two of them which demonstrates his superiority in this event still further. In fact, RVB has won eight of the last 12 meetings in all competitions between the two. The five-time world champ is in great form having reached the Masters final on Sunday and is too good to turn down at 2/1 to beat Lewis yet again on Thursday night.
Three of the other four matches have proved too difficult to call for the odds makers as all six players are near enough exactly the same price to win. I fancy the trio of Dave Chisnall, Gary Anderson and Stephen Bunting to come away with narrow victories from these contests.
Chisnall was in stunning form at the Masters last weekend, only narrowly being beaten by Michael van Gerwen in the last eight. If he can replicate that sort of performance then he will see off Peter Wright in Leeds.
Anderson takes on Taylor in a repeat of the World Championship final and, again, if their Masters form is anything to go by then it should be another victory for the Scot. He looked good on his run to the semi-finals whilst the Power was downed in the first round meaning Anderson has to have the edge.
Stephen Bunting plays James Wade on his Premier League debut in another World Championship rematch. Bunting looked great in beating Wade at the Alexandra Palace and despite this being his Premier League bow there is no reason why he cannot do so again. The pair met four times in 2014 and Bunting won the lot so he has to be the man to back this week.
Likely to be the most one-sided game of the night is Michael van Gerwen taking on another debutant in Kim Huybrechts. The Belgian is capable of brilliance but MVG is by far the more consistent and looked tremendous in winning the Masters on Sunday night. The world number one should win this one comfortably and put the pressure on Huybrechts early in his Premier League career.