Rod's Odds: Premier League Finals
We are finally here after 15 long weeks on the road from Aberdeen to Bournemouth the Premier league road-show has reached the O2 and in my eyes we have just had the best tournament of them all.
From the relegation battle to who made the top four it has been pressure all the way for the players especially Phil Taylor, whose career, perhaps, was on the line at one stage. A revitalised Power is still there though but for me, although he's has not made that top four, Peter Wright's performance and the character he has made himself is the player of the event, "a breath of fresh air".
Well we are down to that top four and the closest call I think we could have had. As I said Taylor is back, Van Gerwen is playing well, Barney can step it up at any time and Gary Anderson is playing the best darts for years. Over four weeks ago I said that Anderson would get the fourth spot and was the value bet in lifting his second Premier League title.
Michael van Gerwen v Gary Anderson
First game of the night in front of a packed house is Michael Van Gerwen 1/3 against Gary Anderson 12/5 and although Gerwen played brilliantly last week let's not forget how well Anderson has played to make the top four. He beat both Mighty Mike and Barney over the last two weeks so his form could not be better as he proved last week when making short work of Barney in Brighton.
Van Gerwen we know, as proved last week, has explosive scoring power and the ability to roll off 12-dart legs for fun. However, in a lot of his games he does go missing in a couple of legs and this is where Gary has got to punish him. If given the chance, he also needs to hold on to his throw strongly.
This game is a very hard call and normally William Hill get it right, however I'm going to stick with my outside prediction of Anderson.
Certainly over 12.5 legs 4/6 (this has already been cut from 4/5) and the match with the most 180s at 4/9.
Raymond van Barneveld v Phil Taylor
The two big guns Phil Taylor and Raymond Van Barneveld take the stage for the second semi final and their last encounter ended honours even. The form line here has to go with Taylor coming into this and, as I have said on many occasions, I just don't think that Barney has the mental ability to beat Phil.
Off the dartboard you show respect - on it nothing. Hate your opponent. This is what Barney lacks. His ability as a dart player cannot be questioned and against anyone else I would give him a great chance, however Taylor is a different ball game and Barney has never beaten him in the Premier League.
Barney's game of late has been all about taking out ton-plus checkouts when given the chance as he did against Taylor with 118 that got him back in the game but I feel there will be no scraps here.
Taylor is so up for this, possibly more then I have ever seen him, and out to prove lots of people wrong. Even I was questioning whether he could make the top four - even he questioned it, I can assure you of that, but he is there and gunning for another title.
I have got to go for a Taylor win, but those odds are not that good at 4/11, so have a look at the handicap -2.5 for Phil 5/6. I fancy that bet.
One bet I feel Barney will win is the most 180s at 10/11 so get on that.
That leaves the final, who will fight it out? If it goes with my tips then I would go for a Taylor win, however if you did back Anderson a while back then hedging is your next step, take some money.
If it's a Taylor v Van Gerwen final then flip the coin as it could be like last year and a massive shot out could decide the outcome.
Keegan Brown v Rowdy-John Rodrigues
We also have the next generation of players coming up with the final of the Youth World championship, which will be played in between the second semi and the final.
Keegan Brown takes on Rowdy-John Rodrigues and this match will live up to what the professionals will produce, both players are characters and with Rowdy you will see a few fist pumps when winning legs. He is a star in the making and certainly will enjoy the crowd at the O2.
Keegan is more laid back and a cool customer. He lost in the final of a pro-tour event a couple of weeks ago to Robert Thornton and has taken many scalps on that tour, including Taylor, so he he for me is the clear favourite.
This is the biggest event to date for both these players and like cup finals anything can happen. However, as I said, it's Keegan for me and with the right coaching and backing then he might just be in the main event in a few years.