Anderson aims to seal semi-final place

Gary Anderson. Pic by Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Gary Anderson. Pic by Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Gary Anderson and Peter Wright face pivotal nights in their Betway Premier League challenges as they double up when the tournament visits Birmingham’s Barclaycard Arena on Thursday night.

With just three league nights remaining before the top four players qualify for May’s Play-Offs at The O2 in London, reigning champion Anderson could secure his semi-final place with two victories on Thursday.

Peter Wright. Pic by Lawrence Lustig/PDC

Peter Wright. Pic by Lawrence Lustig/PDC

The Scot will take on 2014 Premier League champion Raymond van Barneveld in his first match at the Barclaycard Arena, before returning to the stage to face Wright later in the night.

“I knew I had this game in hand and have kept myself in a good position,” said Anderson, who has drawn three of his last four matches. “I’ve not been picking up wins recently but I’ve been getting points and that’s kept me up there.

“It’s good that it’s in my hands and if I can win both my matches on Thursday it will be massive for me.”

Wright, meanwhile, travels to Birmingham four points adrift of the top four after picking up only one win in his last nine games, and he faces league leader Phil Taylor before doubling up against Anderson.

“I’ve got to win my last four games to make the Play-Offs and that’s what I’m aiming for,” said Wright.

“I’ve got a good record in the Premier League against Phil - I’ve never lost in the last three years - and my games against Gary are usually close, but I know I have to win both matches on Thursday.”

Taylor has his sights set on claiming the League Leader’s Bonus which is on offer for the player who tops the league table following the 15-week regular season after extending his unbeaten run to 12 matches a week ago.

“I want the £25,000 bonus and this is another big game,” said Taylor. “I want to top Michael van Gerwen and plant a seed in his head and every match now is about getting ready for the Play-Offs.”

World number one Michael van Gerwen will mathematically secure his Play-Off place if he avoids defeat against 2009 Premier League winner James Wade, who sits a point behind the current top four with three games remaining in the regular season.

Van Gerwen’s only defeat in this campaign came against Wade on the opening night in Leeds on February 4, and the Dutchman admitted: “James is the only player who has beaten me, he’s a good player, a fantastic finisher, and I just need to do one thing: try to beat him.

“I think I made a huge mistake in the opening game of the Premier League against him - I should have won that game easily and I didn’t do it, so I have to put a couple of things right.”

Wade kicked off the season in brilliant fashion with a clinical defeat of van Gerwen, and is aiming to relax in his bid for a first win in four matches.

“I need to relax and just play - the only person who can make James Wade play darts is James Wade,” said the left-hander. “Every game is tricky but I believe every game is as tricky as you make it and I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think I could win it.

“I’ve set myself a hard task and left if late in the league, but hopefully I can relax now and enjoy the games.”

Van Barneveld, meanwhile, is aiming for a third successive victory to keep his hopes of a Play-Off place alive as he meets Anderson.

“If I keep on winning my matches then anything can happen,” said van Barneveld. “This week is Gary, then Michael and the last week in Rotterdam is Peter Wright. It is still possible, but you have to believe. I’ll see how it goes from week to week.”

The night also sees fourth-placed Adrian Lewis up against Scotland’s Robert Thornton, with the Stoke ace aiming to bounce back from his two defeats in Bournemouth last week to continue his push for a semi-final spot.

Betway Premier League

Night 13 - April 28

The Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham

Peter Wright v Phil Taylor

Raymond van Barneveld v Gary Anderson

Adrian Lewis v Robert Thornton

James Wade v Michael van Gerwen

Peter Wright v Gary Anderson