Power and revolution
There's revolution in the air, says Sid Waddell, as he tips Phil Taylor to be toppled again.
Last Updated: 16/02/11 6:09pm
Apparently, when Mao Tse Tung was asked about the consequences of the French Revolution, he replied that it was still too early to tell.
Well Mao would be surprised by how quickly the revolutionary guards have hit Premier League Darts. The new lads certainly hit the ground running in Greenwich.
Debutants Gary Anderson and Mark Webster and new World Champ Adrian Lewis brought their best games to this short-course format. In the past Aidy has been a Flash Harry, while the other two have been too nervous for their own good, but all three more than did themselves justice last Thursday.
Lewis inflicted Phil Taylor's biggest ever defeat in the league, including a ridiculous 90 checkout (bullseye, double top), described by Wayne Mardle as a "naughty little sausage of a shot". It's clear he has learned how to concentrate.
I was equally impressed by Webster, who produced two 100+ finishes and won five legs on the trot to beat James Wade. That was very impressive in the biggest auditorium he'd ever played in, especially against somebody who has won this title before.
Anderson seems to have conquered his demons on the doubles. He beat Simon Whitlock with the sort of 120 finish you would normally associate with the Aussie and later said he'd been inspired by Webster's impressive start.
The new breed managed to beat the men who have dominated this competition for a long time and that could make this the most exciting Premier League we've ever had.
This week we're in Nottingham, where two years ago we saw 44 180's in one night. I reckon these guys are going to shake the joint up again...
Simon Whitlock v Raymond van Barneveld
It was a typical Barney performance last week. He went behind to Jenkins, then pulled ahead, and then he lost the last four legs to lose the match. His mindset is opposite to the three I talked about above because despite all of his experience, he tends to lose faith in himself very quickly. I don't know how he can get around that, other than by playing on the circuit more.
If Barney doesn't hit the 60 regularly in the early part of the match then he tends to panic, but Whitlock is much more assured. He practises almost exclusively on the doubles on the principle that if he can land three in the double 16 then it shouldn't be too hard to move two inches to the right to land them in the treble.
When these two met last season, Whitlock came out on top twice and the Aussie looks to be in better shape again. He averaged 99 last week, compared to Barney's 90, so you'd have to say he's the favourite to win this game.
James Wade v Adrian Lewis
A quick bit of Sid The Statto for you: These two have a perfectly balanced record against each other in their four clashes in the Premier League. In 2008 they drew one match and Wade won the other and then in 2010, they drew won and Lewis won the other. The stats suggest a close one here!
In Bournemouth last year, Lewis went 6-0 up on Barney in nine-and-a-half minutes. That shows you the immense natural ability that he has and I don't think he needed to push himself to average 101 against Taylor last week. When he plays to his best form early in a Premier League match then I think only Anderson and Wade can live with him because they're the most dynamic scorers in the competition.
If Lewis is in the Bournemouth mood and Wade can get back to the level he reached in the first half of the Grand Slam Final (when he was 8-0 up against Scott Waites) then we should be in for a classic because I don't think Wade can play as bad as he did last week. I think it will be 8-6 to one of them, but I wouldn't like to say who.
Phil Taylor v Mark Webster
The Power's 8-2 defeat to Lewis was his biggest Premier League loss ever. He slumped 8-3 to Peter Manley back in 2008 when he lost three of his first four matches and this time he has been saying he is unwell and he might take a two-year break from the game. Well, Webster says he isn't falling for it and reckons Taylor is trying to sucker them into a false sense of security. Maybe that's wise because after that defeat by Manley three years ago, he averaged 107 over the next 11 weeks and went on to win the final!
Within a week it's very hard to say if new attitude or new technology will help Taylor. I've never seen him as depressed as he was talking to the press after last week's defeat and there's also the issue of the changes he's made to his equipment. Will he use his new tapered darts or will he use the ones that he used - with tremendous success - since Spring 2008? Either way, you'd expect him to miss a few early doors.
With the way Webster played last week, I'd have to make him the favourite for this match. He was the man of the tournament at December's World Cup and he beat Taylor 5-2 at the World Championship, so I'll stick my neck out and say we could be looking at back-to-back defeats for Taylor in only the second time in the history of the Premier League.
Terry Jenkins v Gary Anderson
Although Jenks comes from Herefordshire, this will be a Suffolk Punch against a Scottish sword dancer. It didn't surprise me to see Jenkins finish so strongly against Barney at the O2; it was a real up-and-down match and I think we could see another one of those on Thursday night. I envisage Jenks going into an early lead with Anderson getting a slice of the game in the middle. That should set us up for an amazing last four sets. It could be as exciting as Arsenal v Barcelona!
If you look at last week's averages then Anderson (97) was clearly superior to Jenks (91), but I think we could be in for a much closer affair than those statistics suggest. Expect some high scoring from the Scot and some three-dart shootouts from The Bull - and my prediction is one of those great draws that we only get in Premier League Darts.