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Snakebite can repel the Power slayer and extend stay at the Palace

| 27.12.2013

Alexandra Palace opens its doors for the twelfth night of the Ladbrokes Darts World Championship and our news team has previewed the best of the evening’s action, with the treble below paying almost 4/1.

Kevin Painter (+1.5 sets) to beat Simon Whitlock @ 5/6

Kevin Painter has endured a difficult time since making his maiden appearance in the Premier League last year but the 2004 World Championship finalist is now showing the form that gave him an invite to dart’s elite competition.

The Artist has not lost a set in his matches against German Thomas Seyler and Players Championship Finals winner Paul Nicholson. The latter result was particularly impressive and will be worrying his last 16 opponent Simon Whitlock.

If this match had taken place a week ago the Australian would have been far shorter in the betting but Painter’s improvement since arriving in London has not gone unnoticed.

However, the world number four remains favourite after also not surrendering a set in his opening clashes with England’s Ross Smith and Jarkko Komula of Finland.

This is a significant step-up for The Wizard though and his head-to-head record with Painter is much closer than the betting reflects.

Whitlock has won eight of their fifteen meetings, including four of the last five, however, all of those have come during a period when Painter has slipped dramatically down the rankings and has clearly been far from his best.

The 46-year-old is now playing far better than his ranking of 21st in the world would suggest and so odds of 5/6 that Painter wins the match with a 1.5 set advantage looks attractive.

There haven’t been more than three legs between him and Whitlock in any of those four recent losses and it would be surprising, even if Painter was to lose, if it were not at least very close.

Peter Wright to beat Michael Smith @ 4/9

World number two Michael Smith sent reverberations around the darts world when holding his nerve to beat 16-time World Champion Phil Taylor in the second round but despite his bullish reaction after the match that could be the lasting memory of the 23-year-old at this year’s event.

Smith had every right to say he thought he could win the entire tournament after knocking out the odds-on outright favourite, however, it would be a much bigger shock than even turning The Power off if the St Helens thrower was to go all the way.

For fans new to the sport they could be forgiven for not knowing who Smith’s last 16 opponent, Peter Wright was, but the bookmakers certainly do and they are taking no chances with the ebullient arrowsmith.

Wright has had an excellent season in the less heralded events, winning two Players Championship Finals and making it to the final in three others. He has been seen as one of the most difficult players to beat on the floor for some time but only now is he transferring that form in front of the TV cameras.

Wright resisted a fightback from Kim Huybrechts in his last match, a result which in some ways is just as impressive as Smith’s shock against Taylor.

Huybrechts has been another player who has had an outstanding season and the fact that some layers were quoting him at shorter odds than seven-time major winner James Wade speaks volumes. Taylor, on the other hand, played appallingly against Smith and despite the enormity of the achievement on paper, more of the field would have produced the upset that night than wouldn’t have.

As a result, odds of 4/9 that the man they call Snakebite brings Smith back to earth look the best approach.

Raymond van Barneveld v Mark WebsterMatch to contain more than 5.5 sets @ 4/5

Mark Webster has survived two deciding sets to reach the last 16 and his nerve looks set to be put to the test once more against 2007 World Champion Raymond van Barneveld.

Like Painter, form and results seemed to unravel for one of the game’s brightest stars after his nightmare debut in the Premier League in 2011 but the Welshman at least looks mentally strong since arriving at Ally Pally and could pose Barney some problems.

The much-loved Dutchman enjoyed a less stressful first round than Webster when overwhelming Jamie Lewis 3-0, but then had to dig deep like his opponent when his second round clash with Jamie Caven went down to the wire.

The 46-year-old predictably dealt with the pressure much better than Caven but it was far from ideal preparation for the crowd and match favourite.

Webster showed two years ago when making countless deep runs at the Majors that he can mix it with the best of them and so the advice is to invest in the match going close, if not to, the distance.

Both players have enough quality to respond if going behind early, but crucially, both have shown over the last two seasons and already at this championship that they are not in the form to steamroll anyone of any quality. As a result odds of 4/5 that the match contains more than 5.5 sets make appeal.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Sam Foster