Premier League Preview - Gurney Hasn't "Given up" on Top Four Bid
Rob Cross admits he’ll use Eric Bristow as “an inspiration” as he bids for Unibet Premier League glory. The World Champion faces Raymond van Barneveld in Manchester tomorrow as he bids to book his place in the O2 Play-Offs. Voltage is in third place but defeat to RVB at the MEN Arena could leave the door open for a late burst into the semi-final places for the Dutchman or Daryl Gurney. But Cross, 27, is adamant he could keep the on-form RVB at bay. He said: “It’s another emotional week for the sport with Eric getting a final farewell on Tuesday. “I think the past couple of weeks have underlined how much love and appreciation there is for the man within darts. “It’s probably fair to say that maybe none of the top guys playing would be in the sport if they hadn’t been inspired in some way by Eric. “He’s been a towering figure over the sport. If you walk up to anyone in the street still now and say his name, they know all about him. Yet he hadn’t played competitively for over a decade. “Eric will certainly be in my thoughts while I play the game. I hope I can get to the O2 and dedicate a few wins in honour of what he did for this sport.” Cross had a patchy 48 hours in Rotterdam with a defeat to Gary Anderson and draw with Peter Wright, having led 5-2. But he knows a win over Barney, who was sensational on his home soil, will all but book his place in the final four with two weeks left after Manchester. He added: “I think it’s probably important I don’t lose, but naturally I’m going to Manchester to win. I always do. “Raymond was outstanding in Rotterdam and it’ll be interesting to see how he plays after being on such an incredible high. “I won’t be looking too much into that. I just play my own game and it’s been pretty steady for a few weeks now. The opening two nights were shocking but I’ve been fairly consistent since then. “It’s all about just getting through to the O2 now. I do believe I’ve got another gear to go up but I need to find that again, find that sweet spot in my play. “Obviously I discovered it in the World Championships. It’s a new dynamic this Premier League for me but ultimately if I get to the O2 it comes down to performing for two matches on the night. “But I’ll worry about that then. For now I’ve got to wrap up my place and that starts against Raymond.”
Gary Anderson is just one win from the Unibet Premier League Play-Offs but admits he’ll take “nothing for granted”. The Flying Scotsman was inspired with three wins in 48 hours in Rotterdam which has put him on the brink of top four qualification for the O2 finals next month. Now he knows a win over Simon Whitlock in Manchester tonight (Thurs) will secure his place in the London PL showdown. But Ando, 47, admitted: “Last week was very special. I came away with six points, played well and I was over the moon. “I said before that I was going out there to get six points and to get it was brilliant. It was an incredible two days to play in front of 20,000 people. I thought this game couldn’t get any bigger about five years ago but it obviously can, it’s amazing how darts has grown. “It’s a huge boost to play in front on big crowds every week, that’s why making it to the O2 is such an incentive for us all. “I’m not there yet though. It’s very tight from first to sixth in the table and one slip up and the pressure will be back on. I’m sure that Daryl Gurney and Raymond van Barneveld will be all out to make it into that top four. “All I can do is concentrate on my own game. I take nothing for granted at all. It’s just a matter of getting that top four place wrapped up as soon as possible.” Ando had made a patchy start to the PL season due to back problems but is now displaying his best form for over a year.
Michael van Gerwen is aiming to secure top spot in the Unibet Premier League for the SIXTH successive season. League leader Van Gerwen and fourth-placed Michael Smith both play twice as the remaining eight players battle it out to secure their place in the Play-Offs at The O2 next month. Reigning champion Van Gerwen can secure first place for a sixth successive season with wins over Daryl Gurney and Smith, who are both in the race to make the final four. Having suffered back-to-back defeats over two nights in Rotterdam last week, the World No 1 is eager to bounce back in Manchester. He said: “Last week in Rotterdam was really disappointing but that's gone now and this tournament isn't about one or two nights but the whole season. “I've got two matches in Manchester and I'm determined to win them both. I want to finish top of the table and I'm going to do everything I can to achieve that. “Daryl and Michael are playing really well so I know what I've got to do on Thursday."
By Phil Lanning (@lannomedia) Photography courtesy of Lawrence Lustig / PDC