Premier League Darts is back underway in Sheffield on Thursday night with the remaining eight men battling it out for a place in next month's play-offs.
With Australian Simon Whitlock already eliminated in the Dublin leg, last Thursday's outing in Cardiff also saw Wes Newton drop out of the running.
Pressure is building as we move into the second half of the season with league leader Michael van Gerwen looking a solid bet to take the £150,000 first-place cheque.
Date: Thursday, April 9
Time: 7 p.m. BST
TV Info/Live Stream: Sky Sports 1 HD, Sky Go (U.K. only)
Schedule forces double-up
The playing schedule for Thursday's Premier League Darts sees Dutch legend Raymond van Barneveld and World Championship finalist Peter Wright play twice in one night.
|Premier League Darts Fixtures—Thursday April 10|
|Match 1||Dave Chisnall v Raymond van Barneveld|
|Match 2||Peter Wright v Gary Anderson|
|Match 3||Raymond van Barneveld v Peter Wright|
|Match 4||Michael van Gerwen v Robert Thornton|
|Match 5||Phil Taylor v Adrian Lewis|
Van Barneveld and Wright must face each other after taking on Dave Chisnall and Gary Anderson, respectively. And while van Gerwen might be leading the league standings, Wright believes Barney has been this season's best player so far.
Per the PDC's official website, Wright said:
Raymond's been brilliant. I'd say that he's been the best player in the Premier League so far this year, without a doubt.
He's so consistent and the only reason he's had those draws is because he's missed a few doubles, otherwise they'd have been all wins.
Spare a thought for Robert Thornton, who takes on van Gerwen in a top vs. bottom clash. While Thornton still has the opportunity to make the top four, van Gerwen will be keen to step up his game after only managing a draw with relegated Simon Whitlock last time out.
With last-placed Thornton still able to make a leap up the table, things are looking tight in this season's Premier League:
|Premier League Darts Standings After Week Nine|
|Michael van Gerwen||9||6||2||1||+20||14|
|Raymond van Barneveld||9||3||5||1||+8||11|
With two players doubling up and an intriguing top vs. bottom matchup, it would be easy to overlook the night's other match—Phil Taylor taking on Adrian Lewis.
Rod Harrington of Sky Sports anticipates this could be the match of the night with The Power out for revenge after Lewis got the better of him in Week Two:
If you look at the form book then you'd say [Taylor] will win in Sheffield. He played really well last week and is starting to get things right again with his darts. Guys like Lewis can roll off four or five 12-dart legs - but so can Taylor - and I will go with the bookies and back The Power to win.
Lewis looked sluggish last week after spending time in Ireland playing exhibition darts. He somehow managed to secure a draw with van Barneveld, but with the riches of the Premier League on the line, he will have to improve his performance on Thursday if he is to withstand The Power's inevitable onslaught.