Taylor is bookies' favourite

Close contest expected ahead of new Premier League season

By Kristian Walsh.   Last Updated: 10/02/11 11:13pm

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Hard to beat: Phil Taylor

Hard to beat: Phil Taylor

Sky Bet

Sky Bet have installed Phil Taylor as 6/4 favourite to capture his sixth Premier League title in seven years.

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The 50-year-old has enjoyed considerable success in the tournament, losing only four of his 87 matches. The most high profile defeat in the Premier League was his semi-final loss to Mervyn King in 2009 - the only year he has failed to capture the title.

The 2011 competition starts on Thursday, live on Sky Sports 1 and HD1, and it's Taylor's previous form in it which grants him favouritism; but given his recent showings, another Premier League title may not be so academic.

Sky Bet's darts compiler Chris Spicer said: "The 2011 Premier League looks set to be the tightest ever after Phil Taylor continued his slump at the PDC World Championships last month.

"Competition to qualify for the semi-finals is massive and any of the eight entrants will feel that they have real a chance of finishing in the top four."

One who appears to have more of a chance than others is Gary Anderson. The Flying Scotsman, who was defeated by Adrian Lewis in this year's PDC World Championship final, will be making his first appearance in the Premier League.

The online betting firm rate him as a 5/1 to win the tournament, and 11/10 to win his opening fixture against Simon Whitlock - something which Spicer believes to be value.

"Gary Anderson will be playing in the Premier League for the first time and he appears to be the Flying Scotsman appears to be the main threat to Phil Taylor in a tournament that the power has dominated since his inception since 2005," said Spicer.

"Gary Anderson looks like the best bet of the night at 11/10 to beat Simon Whitlock after the Wizard has faultered in recent tournaments."

Anderson isn't the only debutant in this year's tournament; Welshman Mark Webster, who eliminated Phil Taylor from this year's PDC World Championship en route to the semi-finals, will also make his first appearance.

He is available at a much bigger price than Anderson - 14/1 - and at 12/5 is second favourite behind Terry Jenkins (2/1) to finish bottom of the league; a bold statement from Sky Bet, who feel Webster will struggle in his debut year.

Chris Spicer said: "We feel that the former BDO World Champion will struggle to cope with the demands of the Premier League.

"With this in mind, we are a bottom price on Webster to finish bottom and top price on Terry Jenkins to do likewise."

Sky Bet are also offering Premier League darts betting markets on who will throw most 180s, both in individual fixtures and throughout the tournament.

Gary Anderson, who caught the eye with an average of 108.39 against Andy Smith in the PDC World Championship, is 7/4 favourite, while current World Champion Adrian Lewis is 11/4 second favourite.

The Premier League final will be hosted at Wembley Arena on May 19.

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