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The Machine may struggle to produce the goods straight away

| 18.12.2013

Alexandra Palace opens its doors for the seventh night of the Ladbrokes Darts World Championships and our news team has previewed the best of the evening’s action, with the treble below paying just over 7/2.

Mark Webster v Mensur SuljovicLess than 6.5 180’s in the match @ 8/11

Austrian ace Mensur Suljovic won his first two meetings with Mark Webster but their last three encounters are probably a better guide to the outcome of their first round clash at Ally Pally.

The Welsh star has triumphed the last three times they’ve met, although their latest clash was over two years ago and neither player has enjoyed a particularly profitable time since.

Webster had become one of the most dangerous players on tour this time two years ago, backing up a third place finish at the World Championship in 2010 with a string of impressive results in the biggest events the following campaign.

Quarter-final appearances at the World Matchplay, World Grand Prix, Grand Slam of Darts were complimented with a last four run to the UK Open and a narrow defeat in the Players Championship Finals, leading to his maiden inclusion into the Premier League.

Those successes must seem light years ago for the 30-year-old now as after producing dismal darts on a weekly basis to finish bottom of the table he hasn’t achieved anything of note since.

Suljovic has also struggled in the last two years with a last 32 appearance at the World Matchplay the highlight of the 41-year-old’s resumé over the past three seasons. Since graduating from the European Soft Tip circuit where he was a prolific winner there has been little evidence to suggest the Vienna-based man has what it takes to regular compete in the PDC and he understandably starts as a clear outsider.

The reality is that both players are far from their best and whilst marginal preference is for the classier Webster to progress it may pay to invest in the match turning into a low-quality affair.

The 8/11 that the contest contains no more than 6.5 180’s makes plenty of appeal. Webster has averaged only 2.57 maximums this year, whilst Suljovic has managed only 1.67. Both players will be desperate to rediscover their old form and make a deep run here and whatever happens it will probably come at the expense of any high quality play.

Darren Webster (+2.5 Sets) to beat James Wade @ 8/11

World number six James Wade has reached the semi-finals here the past two years and is understandably short to progress to the second round.

Although ‘The Machine’ is without a title win in 2013 he has been typically consistent, making a dozen quarter-finals from a possible 27 events, more than opponent Darren Webster is likely to achieve in his entire career.

Webster, whose career highlight actually came in this event six years ago when going all the way to the quarter-finals in 2007, has been anonymous in the latter stages of any meaningful event since.

A victory in the low-key Irish Masters has kept the 45-year-old afloat this term but it’s impossible to see him managing to win three sets before his opponents does.

However, it’s unlikely that ‘Demolition Man’ will get blown away either.

In their five meetings, Wade has won three, but all have been close and the 8/11 available that Webster can take at least a set with a 2.5 lead on the handicap market looks the best approach.

Wade’s first round opponents the last three years have been much worse than Webster but the favourite still managed to lose a set against Petri Korte in 2012.

Kevin Painter (-1.5 Sets) to beat Thomas Seyler @ 4/7

Thomas Seyler has never progressed past the last 16 of any PDC event and he looks certain to have to wait until next season to put that right.

Kevin Painter has slipped down to 21st in the PDC Order of Merit and has failed to build on a breakthrough season last year that led to his debut in the Premier League.

In the same fashion as Mark Webster, however, a dismal run in the elite league signalled the beginning of a poor run for ‘The Artist’ and his best result this year is reaching the last 16 of the European Championship.

Although he has reached the quarter-finals in nine events this term, they have all been low-grade affairs and the 46-year-old will be desperate to recapture his form in north London.

Painter actually made the final of the event back in 2004 but hasn’t come close to matching that since. Third round exits the last two years is probably a fair reflection of Painter’s standing in the game but he can be forgiven for thinking otherwise after over performing in 2012.

He should be far too strong for Seyler and odds of 4/7 that Painter can win either 3-1 or 3-0, as he has managed in the last two years, looks good value.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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Sam Foster