Premier League Darts preview - Dave Allen
DUTCH duo Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen will seek to continue their superb starts to the McCoy's Premier League Darts season when the event visits the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham on Thursday.
The pair are amongst a quartet of players locked on six points at the top of the Premier League Darts table following four weeks, alongside Phil Taylor and Robert Thornton.
The quartet know that another victory this week would see them almost certain to avoid relegation following nine weeks - when the bottom two players drop out of the Premier League.
Van Barneveld will meet Andy Hamilton on the fifth league night in Nottingham, after picking up his third win of the season with an impressive defeat of Simon Whitlock a week ago.
"Any player would be happy to have three wins out of four games so I'm really pleased with that," said van Barneveld.
"I'm not thinking about relegation - I'm thinking that I'm good enough to go to the semi-finals. I know what I can do, but you have to prove that each week.
"This is the best Premier League ever and I like the new system. This week against Andy Hamilton is another final and I'll have to focus again.
"I'm feeling really good and if you feel alright you can achieve anything."
Unbeaten Van Gerwen, meanwhile, takes on the only player without a point so far this season, two-time World Champion Adrian Lewis, in their Nottingham encounter.
Van Gerwen has taken victory over Lewis in both the World Grand Prix and World Championship in the past six months, and is predicting another thrilling clash when they meet in week five.
"I'm doing well and I want to keep this going now," said van Gerwen. "I've not lost a game yet, which is great for me.
"Me and Adrian always have fantastic games. We had a fantastic game in the World Grand Prix and in the World Championship it was an unbelievably good game.
"Adrian's not in his best form and he hasn't had too much luck on his side, but I'm playing for myself and I just want to win the game.
"I think the pace will be good for both of us and we're both very good players and talented players, but it's about what we do on the day.
"I think there could be a nine-darter. I think I'll hit one in this Premier League, and maybe it will be this week."
Reigning Premier League champion Phil Taylor faces second-bottom Gary Anderson as the world number one bids to remain unbeaten, having changed to using a new set of darts ahead of last week's draw with James Wade.
"It's exciting for me," said Taylor. "I'm enjoying the Premier League and every week's a different challenge, especially now I've got my new darts.
"I can improve with these darts and I want to step my average up and play better.
"Gary's not had the best of starts but you can't ever write him off because he's a phenomenal player when he hits his best. When we play we always tell each other not to miss because the other player's usually there to take advantage, and I'll be saying it again on Thursday!"
The league's other unbeaten player, Robert Thornton, plays 2009 Premier League champion James Wade in Nottingham as he seeks to continue his impressive form, after averaging a personal best 109.33 in his 7-2 defeat of Anderson last week.
"I feel very comfortable up there and I love the Premier League," revealed the UK Open champion. "It's probably the most comfortable I've ever felt in front of a dartboard for a long time.
"If I can play like I did last week then I don't see why I can't take two points. I enjoy playing James, he can take big finishes out and I've got to make sure I get down to a finish first."
One key clash between two players currently sat inside the bottom four sees Wes Newton, who picked up his first win of the season by defeating Lewis in Exeter last week, face Australian Simon Whitlock, who has suffered three defeats since seeing off the same opponent on the opening night.
Whitlock took victory against Newton when the pair meet last year in the European Championship final last September, and the Fleetwood ace admitted that he is looking to turn the tables in Nottingham.
"I learned a lot from that experience," said Newton. "I was playing in front of a big crowd, it was my second major final and Simon had a lot of support, and I've learned from that not to let it bother me so much.
"It would be nice to get a bit of revenge but that's gone now, it's history. Every week in this Premier League's important, it's massive to get points no matter who you play.
"It's going to be another big game and hopefully I'll get a win."
Tickets for the McCoy's Premier League Darts at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham are still available on 0843 373 3000 or via www.capitalfmarena.com
McCoy's Premier League Darts
March 7 - Capital FM Arena, Nottingham
James Wade v Robert Thornton
Raymond van Barneveld v Andy Hamilton
Adrian Lewis v Michael van Gerwen
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
Wes Newton v Simon Whitlock