Barney To Turn Mighty Mike Into Rubble

Finding false favourites is the key to successful betting and there is one in the third week of the Premier League Darts when two of the sport’s biggest names go head to head at the Bournemouth International Centre.

van Barneveld and van Gerwen

The all-Netherlands match between Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen tops the bill on England’s south coast, with the game see the Dutch master going up against his compatriot apprentice over the best of 12 legs. Neither van Barneveld nor van Gerwen has lost in this year’s Premier League Darts, with van Barneveld on two wins and van Gerwen on two draws ahead of their 21 February 2013 blockbuster.

Bookmakers have installed van Gerwen, the 23-year-old from Boxtel who burst on to the world darts scene at the tender age of 17, as the match favourite at odds of around 13-10, with van Barneveld and the draw trading at odds of around 6-4 and 7-2 respectively. It is going to be a great game.

Van Gerwen will have his supporters at his favourite odds but the value lies in backing van Barneveld for any number of reasons, including recent form and head-to-head data.

Let us start with the recent form. Both van Barneveld and van Gerwen ran into the unstoppable juggernaut that is Phil Taylor in the 2013 World Darts Championship, with the old stager losing 4-6 in the semi-finals and the young upstart going down 4-7 in the final. What is interesting is that van Barneveld ended the tournament with the best average (99.29 per three darts) ahead of van Gerwen (98.83), Kim Huybrechts (98.79), Terry Jenkins (97.63) and Taylor (97.46).

And in this year’s Premier League Darts competition, van Barneveld has averaged 100.19 and 102.02 in his two wins, whereas van Gerwen’s averages in his two draws have been 97.93 and 98.28. Admittedly, there is little to choose between the Dutchmen on all of those statistics but van Barneveld has whatever numerical edge does exist.

The head-to-head data between van Barneveld and van Gerwen is more compelling. It appears that the Dutchmen have met a dozen times in professional events, with van Barneveld well out in front on nine victories to van Gerwen’s three. Now one may expect van Barneveld to lead van Gerwen because of their relative levels of experience. But what is amazing is the dominance of van Barneveld in his most recent matches versus his countryman with the darts world at his feet.

Van Barneveld has won each of his last eight games against van Gerwen, with three of those matches taking place in the last two years. One has to go back to January 2007 for the last time that van Barneveld lost to van Gerwen and it is not outrageous to suggest that the 45-year-old from The Hague has a psychological edge over his youthful rival.

One has to remember that van Gerwen grew up watching van Barneveld winning world championships and that he may have an inferiority complex when it comes to playing the man who has done more than anyone to grow the sport of darts in the Netherlands. Everyone has their heroes and van Barneveld was and probably still is one of van Gerwen’s greatest idols.

The last three games between van Barneveld and van Gerwen have been relatively close – 8-5, 10-9 and 16-14 – so there may be more value to be sucked out of their Premier League Darts encounter than supporting the veteran at 6-4. Several bookmakers are quoting prices about the score, with van Barneveld 7-5 at odds of around 13-2, van Barneveld 7-4 at odds of around 10-1 and van Barneveld 7-3 at odds of around 10-1 also. Backing van Barneveld to win either 7-5 or 7-4 works out at just under 7-2, while throwing in 7-3 as well reduces the potential odds to just under 11-5. The smartest score play looks like van Barneveld by two or three legs.

With more than 50 betting markets on most Premier League Darts matches, punters who love their arrows are spoilt for choice. Continuing with the van Barneveld love fest, there are lines about his average versus van Gerwen, with the common over/under point being 98.5. Playing van Gerwen appears to bring out the best in van Barneveld so the sensible play is a bet on him averaging more than 98.5, something that he has done in two of his last three wins over his compatriot. The line is just a little too low.

The other headline game in the third week of 2013 Premier League Darts action is Taylor’s match against Australia’s Simon Whitlock. The Wizard of Oz is trading at odds of around 5-1 to inflict a rare defeat on the Power. Taylor has won 31 of his 36 professional games versus Whitlock.

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