Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts Night Eight Preview
PHIL TAYLOR has warned Raymond van Barneveld that he risks missing out on the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts play-offs this season, as the pair prepare to meet at the CIA in Cardiff on Thursday.
Van Barneveld enters the second half of the 14-game league season sat second bottom in the Premier League table, having won just twice in his opening seven games.
Although the Dutchman is only two points adrift of fourth placed Simon Whitlock, he lost 8-2 to Taylor when they last met and has been warned that he risks a similar result in Cardiff if he fails to raise his game.
"Barney^s got to up his game," said Taylor. "He^s not the normal Barney that we know, but he needs to settle down now and start putting the work in.
"He^s not doing as much as he used to do and I think he loses heart when people are playing well against him."
The visit to Cardiff sees reigning champion James Wade take on Adrian Lewis, with the pair having battled out a thrilling draw in Exeter a month ago - which was Wade^s first point of the season.
The left-hander, though, has warned Lewis to let his darts do the talking at the CIA - after the Stoke ace taunted Wade when he sat bottom of the league table after losing his first three games.
"This time I^ll be ready for him and he^ll have to play a good game," said Wade. "It^s easy to be a hunter for a weak prey but this time I won^t be a weak prey.
"I respect Adrian and think he^s a quality guy, but sometimes he lets his mouth do more work than his darts."
Terry Jenkins is looking to end a run of four successive defeats when he takes on high-flying Mervyn King, with the 2007 runner-up sat bottom of the table at the half-way stage of the league season.
"I^m not too worried really at the moment because I^ve played quite well in the first half of the season," said Jenkins. "If I^d played rubbish every week I^d be disappointed but my form has been pretty good and last week was my worst game, against James Wade.
"Mervyn is consistent and that^s one big thing about his game. You have to try and get an early lead against him because you can then make him think a bit about his game.
"If I can get a win against Mervyn on Thursday and then another win next week I could be back in the top four, which shows how tight the league table is."
The night^s other game sees Ronnie Baxter, who sits in joint second place, face Simon Whitlock, with the Australian likely to slow the pace of the game against the quick-fire Lancastrian.
"Ronnie beat me 8-6 earlier in the season and I want to get him back this time," said Whitlock. "That was the first time I^ve played him and I^m looking forward to playing him again.
"He^s a fast player but I^m just going to try and play my own game this time and slow him down a bit. I might have got into his rhythm last time, but I can play fast as well."
Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts
Week Eight - CIA, Cardiff
Terry Jenkins v Mervyn King
Simon Whitlock v Ronnie Baxter
Adrian Lewis v James Wade
Phil Taylor v Raymond van Barneveld
Live on Sky Sports HD2 from 7pm. Viewers outside the UK and Ireland can watch live through www.pdc.tv.
Terry Jenkins 3/1, Draw 9/2, Mervyn King 1/2
Simon Whitlock 6/5, Draw 7/2, Ronnie Baxter 11/8
Adrian Lewis 6/4, Draw 7/2, James Wade 11/10
Phil Taylor 2/9, Draw 6/1, Raymond van Barneveld 6/1
Match Odds courtesy of Sky Bet, the official bookmaker of the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts