TAYLOR CHASES REVENGE AS RIVALS CHASE TOP FOUR PLACES
PHIL TAYLOR is hoping celebrate his 100th 888.com Premier League Darts game with a revenge win over Adrian Lewis when they meet at the NIA in Birmingham on Thursday night.
Taylor suffered his heaviest - and only sixth - loss since the Premier League began in 2005 when he went down 8-2 to current World Champion Lewis at The O2 in London on the opening night of this season in February.
The reigning champion has won all nine games since to be the first player assured of a play-off place at Wembley on May 19.
After dropping just eight legs in his last four matches, 15-time World Champion Taylor is now looking to make Stoke rival Lewis pay for his heavy February triumph.
"I^m out for revenge," said Taylor. "I wasn^t too well the last time we played but Adrian played really well that night and deserved to win.
"In theory I can relax a little bit now because I^ve qualified, but I won^t be doing that. I^m after eight nine-darters against Adrian, and I know he^s capable of hitting them too.
"I want to go out there and batter him. As much as I love him like my own son I^m going to go out there to prove a point; he^s the World Champion, I^m not."
Lewis has slipped to fifth in the Premier League Darts table with defeats in his last two matches, and admits: "It^s a big match for me if I want to get into the play-offs.
"I^ve been disappointed with the last couple of weeks but I love playing against Phil and hopefully it will bring the best out in me."
Gary Anderson, who is currently second in the league table, could secure his play-off place on Thursday with a victory over Simon Whitlock, and is in confident mood after defeating Taylor in the final of a Speedy Hire UK Open Qualifier last Saturday.
"Although I^m in second place, there^s still four games left and it can still turn around," said Anderson. "I^ve got to make sure I win every game and that^s what I wanted to do, whether it^s Simon, Phil Taylor or Raymond van Barneveld.
"I was delighted with how I played at the weekend, especially on Saturday, and beating Phil Taylor - the top dog - is a big boost for me."
Van Barneveld ground out a victory against Lewis in Sheffield last week, and has a three point gap over the fifth-placed World Champion going into Thursday^s clash with Terry Jenkins.
"Last week I didn^t play at the top of my game and I still got the win, which is important in the Premier League," said van Barneveld, who celebrated his 44th birthday on Wednesday.
"I^m the number six in the world but I^ve beaten the World Champion twice in the Premier League, 8-5 the first time and 8-3 last week, so I^m really happy.
"There^s a gap of three points between me and him in fifth place but these are all top class darts players and anything can happen each week, we all know what Adrian can do and James Wade is still fighting for a top four place too."
Wade, the 2009 champion, has defeated Lewis and Whitlock in the past fortnight to move two points away from the top four, and plays Mark Webster in Birmingham.
Webster defeated Wade 8-3 on the opening night in London, but has lost his last three games 8-1 in slumping to the foot of the table.
"I^ve taken advantage of some players who have underperformed in the last few weeks and I^m in the running still," said Wade. "I^m getting better slowly and in patches I^m playing well.
"It^s been frustrating for me because it^s so close to happening, and when it all comes together a lot of people will be in trouble."
A limited number of tickets are still available for Thursday^s 888.com Premier League Darts at the NIA in Birmingham, priced at £20 plus booking fee, by calling 0844 338 8000 or visiting www.theticketfactory.com.
888.com Premier League Darts
Week 11 - N.I.A., Birmingham
James Wade v Mark Webster
Terry Jenkins v Raymond van Barneveld
Simon Whitlock v Gary Anderson
Phil Taylor v Adrian Lewis
Tickets: 0844 338 8000 or www.theticketfactory.com
888sport.com Match Odds
James Wade 8/11, Draw 15/4, Mark Webster 9/4
Terry Jenkins 9/4, Draw 4/1, Raymond van Barneveld 4/6
Simon Whitlock 2/1, Draw 15/4, Gary Anderson 4/5
Phil Taylor 1/3, Draw 5/1, Adrian Lewis 9/2
Latest League Table
R v Barneveld