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Nic Ladds 23rd May 2009 - 21:45

The Power and the Glory in Premier League play-offs

Phil The Power Taylor is yet to let go of the Premier League Darts title he first won four years ago, and it doesn't look like he'll let go of it this year either.

Far and away the best player the world has ever seen, the man from Stoke lost just once on his way to Wembley Arena, and I'll be very surprised if he loses on Monday night.

The only man to beat Taylor during the league campaign was James Wade, who takes on Raymond van Barneveld in the first play-off match.

The Machine, as the left-handed star is known, recently replaced Barney as the world's second best player - and his results against the big Dutchman show why. In their two matches, Raymond only notched up nine legs in reply to James' sixteen.

However, in a winner-takes-all best-of-19 contest, it remains to be seen whether Wade can live up to his price of 8/11 favourite.

During November's Grand Slam of Darts the 26-year-old recorded a nine-dart finish, but managed to lose the match to Gary Anderson. Performing after that magic moment, he crumbled under the pressure of being expected to win.

It's this capitulation which makes me wary of backing him at odds-on; I'd much rather have my money invested in five-time world champion Van Barneveld. The former postman is much more accustomed to the big stage, as well as the pressure of winning, so to me represents more value at even money.

Whoever does win the first semi-final, which looks like being a cracking encounter, will face Phil Taylor - unless Mervyn King pulls off what would be a monumental shock.

As stated earlier, The Power is quite simply the best there has ever been. His career is littered with trophies won both on and off our screens, including an amazing fourteen world titles. More crucially to this clash, he's won every Premier League title since it's inception five years ago.

I can't see The King - as well as he's undoubtedly played in his debut season - beating Taylor here. Phil is just too good for him in this format, which now has no draw; it's no surprise to see him as a huge odds-on shot - you'll get 1/10 on your money.

Mervyn did manage to take a point off the world number one in a regular season tussle, but this is a whole different ball game. In my opinion, his odds of 11/2 reflect the fact that he really doesn't stand much chance of making the final.

However, I do think King is good enough to take a few legs from Taylor; therefore a look elsewhere for a bet leads me to the handicap market. King with a 5.5 leg start pays 5/6 for your hard-earned, which for me is a superb punt.

During the league season, King took nine legs from Taylor. In this match he would have to take five from the arrers legend for you to cash in - something I think stands a great chance of happening.

Throughout the last five or so months, we've offered you an enhanced odds four-fold every week. For the play-offs, we're tweaking that bet slightly in our 'nominate the finalists' market.

The one match-up every fan (and the bosses at the PDC) wants to see is The Power v Barney, and this is the final I think we will get to see - 6/5 is the price.

Whatever happens on the night, you can be sure it'll be rocking at Wembley Arena with thousands of fans and their crazy costumes.

Join us at 18:10 when all the action kicks off - our betlive service will have every angle covered, from the moment the players step up to the oche 'til the final check-out is thrown.

James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld - view all betting

Phil Taylor v Mervyn King - view all betting

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On The Oche - head-to-head darts statistics and live scores


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