Darts: 2009 Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts - Night 13 Preview
JAMES WADE is looking to increase the pressure on Phil Taylor at the head of the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts when the tournament visits the Sheffield Arena on Thursday.
Wade will complete his league fixtures for 2009 when he takes on Jelle Klaasen in Sheffield, in the penultimate league night of the season.
While a place in the play-offs is assured for world number two, a win over the Dutchman would see him move back to the top of the table ahead of Taylor, who plays Mervyn King next week in his final match.
Finishing top would guarantee a semi-final against the fourth-placed player, with second playing third in the play-offs at the Wembley Arena on May 25.
"Winning a place in the play-offs was the main aim and that^s done now but it would be great to finish top of the table and take that into the play-offs," said Wade.
"To finish ahead of Phil over the course of the league would be a great achievement, although I maybe let it slip when I didn^t finish the job in Nottingham and Phil drew with me.
"But I^ve got to look after my own game this week and then it^s up to him to beat Mervyn in Cardiff."
Wade has averaged over 100 in three of his last four games, including a 108 average in an 8-1 defeat of Terry Jenkins, but admits Taylor^s record tally of 116 in seeing off John Part last week has created a new standard.
"At the moment if I^m averaging 105 or 106, I^m playing okay, but if I get over that then it^s a good game," said Wade.
"Unless I average 107, 108 or 109 I feel like I^m not doing anything special - but it^s Phil who has set that margin, and he does it all the time."
With Wayne Mardle ruled out of the remainder of the Premier League through illness, Terry Jenkins faces John Part in the other league match in Sheffield.
Both saw their hopes of qualifying for the top four ended last week in Aberdeen, but are battling for places and increased prize money in the final two weeks.
"Losing three points when Wayne was ruled out meant it became much harder for me, but I^m battling to try and get that fifth place and that^s my aim," said Jenkins.
Two Challenge Matches will open proceedings at the Sheffield Arena, with Raymond van Barneveld taking on world number seven Adrian Lewis - a Premier League semi-finalist last year - before one of the sport^s greatest rivalries resumes when Taylor takes on Dennis Priestley.
The pair share 16 World Championship titles and have competed in six major finals over almost two decades at the top of the sport.
Tayloralso defeated Priestley in the semi-finals of the 2007 Premier League, and insists he will not ease off despite his recent seven-match unbeaten run, which included a record 116.01 average last week against John Part.
"I^m looking forward to playing Dennis - I always do," said Taylor. "It^s a bit of fun and doesn^t have any league points but I^ll be playing properly, don^t worry about that!
"I might have averaged 116 last week against John Part but I^m aiming for a 117 average against Dennis."
Yorkshireman Priestley watched Taylor^s imperious display against Part, and feels his great rival is improving with age.
"His scoring power has been fantastic lately and he^s better than ever," said Priestley. "He^s the yardstick, and his averages prove that.
"He^s miles better than when we were at the top of the game in the 1990s. Then, a good average was in the high 90s and a great average was in the low 100s, and now he^s taken that ten points on."
Priestley, who hails from Mexborough, just 15 miles from the Sheffield Arena, is expecting a warm reception from the 6,000 fans in his home county.
"It^s always a pleasure to play in front of my home fans and I can^t wait for Thursday," said Priestley.
"I^ve certainly got a tough task ahead of me against Phil but I^ll be giving it my best shot.
"I^m quietly optimistic, but I know his A game is better than mine. It doesn^t always work like that, but if I get a chance I have to take it."
A limited number of tickets for Thursday^s Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts still remain on sale, priced at £20 and available on 0114 256 5656.
Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts
April 30 - Sheffield Arena
Raymond van Barneveld v Adrian Lewis (Challenge Match)
Phil Taylor v Dennis Priestley (Challenge Match)
Terry Jenkins v John Part
James Wade v Jelle Klaasen
Live on Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports HD1 from 7pm.