I know, it’s a ridiculous question. Phil “The Power” Taylor is the current Premier League Darts champion and has won it on six out of the eight occasions. He’s recently been crowned World Champion yet again and 2012 was another consistently successful, if not breathtaking, year. Yet, aside from the culmination of the Worlds in the New Year, The Power hasn’t really sparked to life.
After six rounds of the expanded 2013 Premier League, Taylor finds himself lying in fifth, just one point from the play-offs, yet only three points from the relegation zone, where the trap door will open in Brighton on the 11th April. Taylor has lost his last two matches, including a comprehensive 3-7 beating at the hands of Andy Hamilton, his first televised win against Taylor. The champion hasn’t won in his last three PL games and his two wins this season have come at the hands of Simon Whitlock and Adrian Lewis – both are in the bottom half of the table, with Lewis two points adrift towards the bottom.
The signs are looking good for an upturn of form, however. Taylor travels to Cardiff tomorrow to face Wes Newton, currently rock bottom of the Premier League with just one win, one draw and four losses. Taylor will still need to show more of a fight than he has in the last few weeks. Gone is the enjoyment of the crowd’s chanting and the ease at which he throws his darts. The Power is really starting to feel the pressure now and he needs a win if he wants to remain a threat to the Dutch powerhouses of Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen.
Whilst the prospect of facing a severely out-of-form Newton may sound like an enticing one for someone wishing to get back on top of results, the European champion is in the fight of his life to make it to the second phase of fixtures, particularly after being leapfrogged by the resurgent Lewis. A chance to prove himself against Taylor may be just what he needs to get his confidence back. That’s not the only challenge for Taylor in the coming weeks; Taylor has been lucky to avoid a Scottish opponent in Glasgow, but that doesn’t soften the blow of being paired with league leader van Barneveld. The Power’s final fixture of the first round is against dark horse Robert Thornton, lying in fourth by virtue of one fewer loss than Taylor.
As I said, it’s ridiculous to think that Taylor’s day is done. He’s come back from much worse, he’s only in fifth, for goodness sake! Still, with two players leaving the league before the fixtures in Sheffield next month, there’ll be no easy games, nowhere to hide.
So, predictions! I’m notoriously bad at predicting sport results, but why not? I’ve been watching the Premier League closely for the first time and I like to think I’ve got a grip on what might happen. Then again, the script has been completely ripped up for the last two weeks, but hey!
Andy Hamilton will be on a high after hammering Phil Taylor, but so is Simon Whitlock. The Wizard made light work of in-form James Wade and it’s going to be a tough encounter between the two. I reckon Hamilton will come out all guns blazing at the start, but a comeback from the Aussie will make it 7-4 Whitlock.
Gary Anderson isn’t a bad player by any means, but Michael van Gerwen is going to be too strong for him. His loss to Adrian Lewis was a minor blip and his destruction of Wes Newton is much closer to how this game will go, I feel. As before, 7-4 for van Gerwen. Lewis, on the other hand, is showing his world champion credentials once again and I think he might surprise Robert Thornton. 7-5 Lewis, but it’ll be a real tussle. As discussed, Wes Newton is going to be a big match for Phil Taylor and he’s going to have to be on his game. I’d like to think it’ll be a tough game and maybe it will… as far as averages go. In terms of scoring, I’m going for a 7-2 demolition at the hands of Taylor.
The headline match of the even is van Barneveld versus James Wade and there’s not a lot between them. Both dropped points this week, but the Dutchman is in the better form, unbeaten since Week 3. There’s every chance this is going to be a dire, one-sided match but I’m optimistic and I’m plumping for a 6-6 draw.
If these predictions remotely come off, I’ll be back to tell you all about it! If not (which is likely), you won’t hear from me again.