Premier League Darts - night 13 preview
PHIL TAYLOR is aiming to move a step closer to the Premier League Darts Play-Offs as he doubles up against Raymond van Barneveld and Dave Chisnall in Birmingham on Thursday.
Taylor, the 16-time World Champion and six-time Premier League Darts winner, has put his nightmare start to this year behind him with a seven-game unbeaten run which has moved him into the league's top four.
With only three league nights remaining before the Play-Offs in London on May 22, Taylor's double-header at The NIA could prove crucial in him securing the chance to challenge for the title.
The 53-year-old drew with Gary Anderson, one of his rivals for a top-four spot, in Manchester last week, but having averaged 106 in the contest is expecting to maintain his form as he meets Dutch legend van Barneveld and 2013 World Grand Prix finalist Chisnall.
"Getting into the top four means everything and I want to get the two wins this week," said Taylor.
"In many ways it's make or break for me because with two wins I could pretty much put myself into the Play-Offs, and that's what I'm going after.
"It's a massive night and the other players know I'm playing well, and they're worried now. My game's fantastic and as the year goes on I'll get better and better - it's not 100 percent yet but it's coming together."
Chisnall sits four points adrift of the Play-Off places following his defeat to van Gerwen last week, and takes on Robert Thornton - the only player of the remaining eight unable to reach the top four - and Taylor as he too doubles up in Birmingham.
"I've got four games left and that's eight points I can win, so that can still get me there," said the St Helens thrower. "It depends on the other games but I'm looking forward to this week.
"I'm playing Robert Thornton and Phil Taylor, and hopefully I can do the double there. Phil's still the best player in the world - when he's 'on' he's something different - so it will be good to play him.
"I think I'm playing well, so I've just got to tidy up a little bit on my doubles."
Anderson's Play-Off challenge could hinge on his meeting with league leader van Gerwen, with the 2011 champion having joined Taylor on 14 points in the table with a pair of draws in Manchester last week.
"I know that if I win my games the rest should take care of itself," said Anderson. "I'm in touch but I'm giving points away and making a mess of games.
"Looking back I've thrown a few games away and some players have had the game of their lives against me, so I can't complain, I've just got to buckle down and get on with it."
Van Gerwen's win over Chisnall in Manchester maintained his status a point ahead of Dutch rival van Barneveld, and the World Champion is aiming to claim his tenth win of the season as he plays Anderson.
"I'm on top of the table but I can feel the other players breathing down my neck!" said van Gerwen. "I want to win all my remaining games and play well all the time.
"Last week, when I needed to I hit the doubles at the right time. I'm probably at 90-95 percent of my best but I'm still winning, and that's a nice thing."
The night's other game sees third-placed Peter Wright playing Adrian Lewis, the UK Open champion who has lost his last four games and must avoid defeat on Thursday if he is to keep alive his top four hopes going into the final two league nights.
"Adrian's a great player and he's fighting for his life, but I've got a good record against him on TV and I want to keep that," said Wright.
"All I'm thinking about going into the game is winning, but I want to make sure my average is over 100 to make sure Adrian's on top of his game."
Tickets for the Premier League Darts at The NIA in Birmingham are still available via 0844 338 8000 or www.theticketfactory.com.
Premier League Darts
May 1, NIA, Birmingham
Robert Thornton v Dave Chisnall
Raymond van Barneveld v Phil Taylor
Michael van Gerwen v Gary Anderson
Adrian Lewis v Peter Wright
Dave Chisnall v Phil Taylor
Tickets: 0844 338 8000 or www.theticketfactory.com