Premier League Darts Night Seven Preview
PDC Media Office David Allen brings us a preview of night six in this year's Premier League darts. Also thanks to Lawrence Lustig, PDC
The league phase of the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts reaches its half-way point at the NIA in Birmingham on Thursday, as Phil Taylor and Adrian Lewis clash in an all-Stoke battle.
The seventh of 14 league nights in the event visits Birmingham, with the race for places in May's play-offs beginning to intensify.
While unbeaten Taylor has picked up 11 points from his six games so far and Mervyn King, the 2009 runner-up, has eight points, only two points separate the other six players in the league table.
One of those, fourth-placed Lewis, gets his chance to become the first player to defeat Taylor this season when they clash at the NIA, with the 25-year-old looking to end his record of having never defeated the 15-time World Champion on television.
"If someone's going to beat him then I think I'm the man to do it," said Lewis. "If I start well I'll put him under bags of pressure.
"He's top of the league and has nothing to worry about, so he'll be out there playing his game and it's up to me now to go up there and show him who I am, and that's what I'm going to do. I think he's going to have a shock on Thursday.
"I'm more experienced now, I've got a couple more tournament victories under my belt and I think I can go up there and throw good darts."
Taylor has defeated Lewis in the quarter-finals of four major tournaments in the past year, but admits facing his former practice partner is an exciting challenge.
"I'm really, really looking forward to that one," said Taylor. "He's a very good player and if you catch him on the right day he can beat anybody, as we all can.
"If you're not on song in this tournament you will get beaten by anybody, but I'm not worried about Adrian - I'm excited!
"I'm probably one of the proudest men when Adrian does well and if he beats me I won't be happy but I'll be proud of him."
The night will open when second-placed King faces Australian Simon Whitlock, who hit a 170 finish in taking a 4-1 lead against James Wade last week only to lose the next seven legs in slipping to defeat.
"He's a great finisher and if he's scoring as well as he's finishing then you've got problems," said King.
"He finishes so well because he only practises on doubles, not on trebles, and if he's off his scoring then you've got to get ahead of him and take your chances. If you don't and he's on a shot out then he won't miss."
The night's second game feature's the league's bottom two players, Terry Jenkins and James Wade, the reigning who picked up his first win of the season in Brighton last week.
"It was a relief to get the win last week and I want to build on that now," said Wade. "The league table's very tight and if I want to reach the play-offs I've got to earn it.
"Last year I was in second place at this stage and laughing at the people down there at the bottom, but the boot's on the other foot now. I've got to play well to make players miss doubles against me again."
The night's other game sees Ronnie Baxter face the resurgent Raymond van Barneveld, who has picked up a win and a draw in his last two Premier League games and also made his first appearance of the year on the PDC ProTour in Crawley last weekend.
"I enjoyed playing in Crawley, the standard on the circuit now is unbelievable but it was a good workout for me," said van Barneveld.
"I'm very pleased with the new darts and I want to get another win this week."