Premier League Darts - Night 14 Preview
Talor aiming to seal top four spot as Premier Leaue Darts visite Newcastle.
Phil Taylor could secure his place in the Premier League Darts Play-Offs when he takes on Peter Wright at the Metro Radio Arena on Thursday, as the league's top two players, Michael van Gerwen and Raymond van Barneveld, also do battle in Newcastle.
Six-time Premier League Darts champion Taylor moved up to third in the table last week as he drew with Raymond van Barneveld and then defeated Dave Chisnall when he doubled up in Birmingham last Thursday.
The 53-year-old now takes on Wright on the penultimate league night in Newcastle this Thursday, knowing that he can secure a top-four finish with a victory over the World Championship finalist - as well as damaging his opponent's Play-Off hopes in the process.
Wright defeated Taylor 7-4 in Belfast when the pair met earlier in the season as he opened his debut campaign with a seven-game unbeaten run, but has slipped to fourth in the table recently and is level on 16 points with Gary Anderson going into the last two league games.
"It's a massive game," said Taylor. "I'm really up for it and I opted not to play in the two tournaments last weekend to get myself ready for this - that's how important it is to me.
"It's a race for the ticker-tape now, so everybody's going to push forward and the pressure's on. I've been very impressed by Peter this season.
"He's been confident and I think he's wound a few players up and they've bitten to it, but he's doing it on the board, he's hitting the right shot that's hurting players and the other players don't know how to handle it.
"It's good to watch to be honest, he's been a little breath of fresh air. He beat me earlier in the season, but it gives me something to look forward to this week.
"It's a clean slate and I'll get up there and just get on with it. I've beaten him more times than he's beaten me, but he's confident on TV and thinks he's unbeatable, so bring it on!"
Wright has bounced back from a three-game losing run by picking up a win and a draw over the past fortnight, and is aiming to complete a seasonal double over Taylor.
"Phil's the master and we all look up to him, but I beat him the last time so I want to do exactly the same again," said Wright.
"People put a downer on it, saying that Phil wasn't playing well, but his losing average was over 100 and I thought I played pretty well actually to beat him - but I know I've got to do more this week.
"I've been practising really well recently, and every week I'm having to dig deeper and deeper, and I'll never give up. I'm still trying to qualify and I want to try and get something out of the this week."
2011 Premier League Darts champion Anderson - who sits below Wright on Leg Difference - faces a key battle with Chisnall as he bids to jump into the top four, having overcome World Champion van Gerwen in Birmingham last week.
"I've silenced a few critics this year but I want to play well every week," said Anderson. "This season it's been good and bad from me, but when I've been bad I've been absolutely sick about it, which seems to be firing me up a little bit more.
"Chizzy's been brilliant this season. He's been so unlucky to get the losses he has had with the way he's played, but it's very competitive this year and the Premier League's full of great players."
The league's joint leaders, reigning champion van Gerwen and Dutch rival Raymond van Barneveld also meet in Newcastle, and though the pair are already assured of their Play-Off places, the duo have plenty to play for with the chance to move clear at the top of the table.
"If I can beat Michael then I'll go top, and that means the world to me," said van Barneveld. "I've qualified now for the top four, so I'm happy, but I'm still focusing and I'm unbeaten for 12 games now, and it's important for me to perform well.
"Michael's a good lad and a top player and I love him - but on stage it's different! It's a big game for me."
Van Gerwen's preparation has been hampered by a sprained ankle which saw him sit out last weekend's Players Championship events in Wigan, but he is determined to make amends for his 7-5 loss to van Barneveld earlier this season.
"I always enjoy playing Raymond and it's a big game for us both," said van Gerwen. "He won the last time we played so hopefully it's my turn this week, and I'll be trying my hardest to get the win.
"We're both up there in the table and it would be brilliant for me to finish top again, but the most important thing is being in the Play-Offs and we've both qualified already, so we can relax and play our best game on Thursday."
Scottish ace Thornton travels to Newcastle in brilliant form after winning both Players Championship events in Wigan and moving back into the world's top ten ahead of his clash with Adrian Lewis.
Neither player can reach the Play-Offs, but Thornton is determined to end his season on a high following a win over Chisnall in Birmingham last week.
"I'm out of the running for the top four but the other players aren't going to have it easy and I want to finish well," said Thornton.
"I've been a bit unlucky with losing a lot of games 7-5 but I've played well and done well in some of the other floor tournaments. It's just been the odd missed double which has cost me matches in the Premier League, and I've got to work on that.
"I love the Premier League, it's brilliant and my mentality hasn't changed even though I can't qualify. I want to climb another couple of places if I can win my final two matches."
Thursday's Premier League Darts will be shown live on Sky Sports 2HD from 7pm. A small number of tickets are still available, and can be purchased through 0844 493 6666 or