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Michael Taylor 21st May 2010 - 20:11

Taylor to unceremoniously dethrone King

This time last year Mervyn King enjoyed the greatest win of his career when he dumped Phil Taylor out of the Premier League Darts semi-final, this year though history looks unlikely to repeat.

The 2010 Premier League Darts semi-finals at the Wembley Arena take place this Sunday and the sport's greatest ever player seems more determined than ever to avoid a repeat of last year's disappointment.

Phil 'The Power' Taylor was left ruing his shock exit at the hands of King not only in the aftermath of the huge surprise but as far on as the season end, with the Premier League crown the only absentee from his trophy cabinet.

To make matters worse for the 13-time World Champion his grand slam year had been ended by a former anti-PDCer and a man Taylor would consider one of his few enemies on the circuit.

Despite playing the majority of their careers in different codes King soon announced himself as immune to The Power's greatness, courting controversy by throwing before Taylor had moved away from the oche.

King's act during the heats of the 2009 Premier League competition may not have endeared the two time BDO World Championship runner-up to the crowd, however it did establish him as a gritty star unwilling to fall under the Taylor spell.

He backed up his strong character act with the 10-6 win over a scrappy Taylor to send the defending champion home, falling just short himself in the final against a rampaging James Wade.

Whatever the final result though King returns to the scene of his finest victory ever full of confidence, sadly though I'm not sure confidence will even come close to knocking off Taylor for the second successive year.

Taylor, who went undefeated throughout the 14 round qualification stage, is a huge favourite to claim the £125,000 prize money and a fifth Premier League title and it'd take a brave man to bet against him.

To get revenge on King he's a tiny but not altogether surprising 1/12 shot, the better value though has to be on the correct score market for his semi-final showdown.

Last year King won 10-6, this year you get the feeling that if The King manages to get even a single leg on the board then The Power will be disappointed - not that I think even a full strength Taylor could realistically expect a shut-out.

What I would be looking more towards is the closest thing to a whitewash with an 8-1 Taylor win at 8/1 and 8-2 win at 9/2 - both of which would surely spell out danger for whoever crosses his path when it comes to final time.

And the men shaping up for their shot at glory are Simon Whitlock and James Wade and they'll be going at it with hammers and tongues in the other semi-final.

Whitlock, the most refreshing addition to PDC darts since Raymond van Barneveld, put together the type of qualifying campaign to prove that his World Championship final appearance was no fluke.

The Wizard of Oz now has the reputation to suggest that in Taylor's absence he really could be the one to beat thanks to his fluster-free style and enormous crowd backing, however he could have his work cut out here.

'The Machine' James Wade is undoubtedly one of the most talented throwers around, his biggest problem has been consistently putting it together when it comes to the main stage.

The good news for his fans though is that after last year's Premier League win he automatically becomes one to watch with his confidence, at least heading into the semis, sure to be sky high.

It may be that a final against Taylor is one step too far for the amiable Aldershot man but I believe that over the best of 15 tie against Whitlock he could just about eek through.

The Machine is great value at 11/10 to progress while if I had to nominate a correct score I'd be looking somewhere between 8-6 to 8-7 both in Wade's favour - available at 15/2 and 7/1 respectively.

As for the overall winner Taylor looks a banker on paper and similarly hot at 2/7 in the betting. I wouldn't go against that price although don't be surprised if the great man has to break sweat before lifting his fifth Premier League title.


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