THE top two players in the 888.com Premier League Darts league table, Gary Anderson and Phil Taylor, clash as the tournament visits the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester on Thursday.
Anderson has made a brilliant start to the season with four wins from as many games in his debut Premier League Darts campaign.
Taylor has bounced back from losing to Adrian Lewis on the opening week of the Premier League Darts season with three successive victories, including an 8-3 defeat of Raymond van Barneveld a week ago.
Anderson has yet to be pushed all the way in his wins over Simon Whitlock, Terry Jenkins, Mark Webster and James Wade, but is expecting his toughest assignment yet in Manchester.
“I’m excited about playing Phil and it’s a big test,” said Anderson. “Phil’s battered me a few times before but I’ll be going up there to perform well.
“I still believe I can hit a 120 average and Mark showed last week when he beat Adrian that 110 averages can be done and I get a chance to do it again this week. I’d settle for a lower average but still to win though!”
While Anderson won 7-3 in sets when the pair met in the 2007 World Darts Trophy final in Holland, Taylor has won their ten meetings since, including a 13-12 triumph in the final of the Players Championship Finals last month in Doncaster.
“When he beat me in the World Darts Trophy I missed doubles and it was a closer game than the scoreline reflected,” said Taylor. “But you play a game, lose and move on, and I’ve beaten him loads of times since!
“I’m not worried about him, I think he’s more worried about me getting revenge!
“Gary’s brilliant and deserves to be top of the table at the moment. He’s a fantastic player who is consistent, has got great scoring power and a good attitude towards the game.”
Mark Webster is looking to follow up his brilliant 8-2 demolition of Lewis in Exeter last week, when he hit the sixth-highest ever Premier League Darts average of 110.19, when he faces Jenkins.
“I’d lost badly against Gary Anderson the week before so to perform so well against Adrian put that behind me,” said Webster. “I’ve got to try and keep it up against Terry and if I can carry on playing so well I’ll have a good chance of making the play-offs.”
2009 Premier League champion Wade takes on five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld as the pair bid to bounce back from their losses in Exeter, while Lewis meets Whitlock.
“Adrian will want to bounce back from last week and it should be a really good game,” said Whitlock, the 2010 World Championship finalist.
“He’s a great competitor and even though he’s World Champion I’ll treat him just as I do every other player. I’m pretty pleased with how I’ve done with winning my last two games and my confidence is growing.”
Over 7,000 tickets have already been sold for Thursday’s event, but some tickets, priced at £20 plus booking fee, are still available via 0844 847 8000 or www.men-arena.com.
Coverage of the 888.com Premier League Darts will be shown live on Sky Sports HD1 from 7pm on Thursday. PDCtv Subscribers outside of the UK and Ireland can also watch live via www.pdc.tv.
888.com Premier League Darts
Week Five - M.E.N. Arena, Manchester
Terry Jenkins v Mark Webster
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld
Simon Whitlock v Adrian Lewis
Tickets: 0844 847 8000 or www.men-arena.com