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DARTS^ biggest rivalry resumes at Exeter^s Westpoint Arena on Thursday night, as Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld clash in the Premier League Darts.

The duo, who share a total of 20 World Championship titles, will meet in the fourth week of this year^s Premier League as they both seek to extend a two-match winning run in the event.

After suffering losses in the opening week at London^s O2 Arena, when Taylor went down 8-2 to Lewis and van Barneveld let a 6-4 lead slip as he went down 8-6 to Terry Jenkins, the pair have stormed back since.

Van Barneveld finished four ton-plus finishes in defeating Simon Whitlock and then edged out World Champion Adrian Lewis 8-6 in Belfast a week ago, while Taylor has defeated Mark Webster and Jenkins in the past fortnight.

"Barney^s come back brilliantly," said Taylor. "In the first week, like me, he was terrible but he^s picked his game up after having some problems last year.

"He^s playing well and is somebody that I love to play because he^s one of the greatest players I^ve ever seen, and I^m going to really enjoy it on Thursday.

"There will be a massive crowd and a great atmosphere and it will be a great game."

Van Barneveld defeated Taylor in an epic sudden-death leg to win the 2007 World Championship, but endured a three-year gap without a major title until last December^s World Cup in a period in which the Stoke legend has dominated the sport.

"Phil has put the standard so high," said van Barneveld. "There have been times I^ve been watching him and thinking ^this is not normal, how does this guy never miss?^.

"If you don^t finish in 15 darts against him you have a problem. It^s like a golfer missing one putt and losing a whole competition, you miss one double against him and he punishes you."

Van Barneveld has yet to defeat Taylor in their ten previous Premier League meetings, and lost both games last year 8-2 - although he believes he can mount a serious challenge to Taylor^s title following his recent form.

"I^m looking forward to it because I love to play Phil - it^s special," he added.

"I was not myself last year. I had private problems, and I didn^t feel comfortable on stage and everyone was playing great darts against me.

"I was wondering if I was good enough to play at the highest level but I^ve shown in the last two weeks that I am, and I am feeling confident.

"If you can beat Simon Whitlock and the World Champion Adrian Lewis, then why can^t I beat Phil too? The results have given me a good feeling, and I feel comfortable."

League leader Gary Anderson, who defeated Mark Webster 8-1 last week, is bidding to extend his winning start to the season to four matches in Exeter when he takes on 2009 champion James Wade - who has picked up one win from his three games.

"I can improve on my performance from last week because I missed a few doubles early in the game but Mark didn^t punish me," said Anderson. "The important thing is to be winning and I^m doing that at the moment.

"James showed his quality when he defeated Adrian Lewis two weeks ago and it should be a good match."

The night^s other two games feature players bidding for their second victories of the season to keep pace with the early-season leaders, as World Champion Adrian Lewis plays Mark Webster and Terry Jenkins meets Simon Whitlock.

"I think anybody is capable of making the top four," said Whitlock, who came from 5-4 down to win 8-5 against Wade last week. "Gary^s top of the table and Phil Taylor is playing really well, but you^ve got the best eight players in the world.

"I^ve got to keep going and get some more wins. I hope I can get some momentum now and carry it on from last Thursday.

"Terry^s a brilliant player. He^s so gritty and he keeps grinding away and never gives up, and you^ve never got him beaten."

Coverage of the 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 Premier League Darts
Week Four - Westpoint Arena, Exeter

Terry Jenkins v Simon Whitlock
Mark Webster v Adrian Lewis
Gary Anderson v James Wade
Raymond van Barneveld v Phil Taylor
Tickets: 08444 99 99 55 or


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