Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts - Night Five Preview
WHYTE & MACKAY PREMIER LEAGUE DARTS LEADERS FACE OFF IN MANCHESTER
THE Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts^ top two players clash for the first time this season when Phil Taylor and Mervyn King with his new Winmau darts meet at the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester on Thursday night.
The duo occupy the top two positions in the Premier League Darts table after the opening four weeks, with Taylor winning all of his games and King having picked up three victories.
While Taylor has won all four games, he is expecting his toughest test yet against King, who ended his reign in the Premier League Darts with a semi-final triumph last May.
"It will be a good clash," said Taylor. "It^s one of the games I can get my teeth into.
"I like his attitude and his professionalism. Last week he got up at 5am after Exeter and drove four hours to get on a plane and fly to Germany and compete again.
"That shows what type of player he is; you know he^s always going to turn up and play well, and it will be a challenge for me."
Taylor was bidding to claim a fifth successive Premier League title when King stunned him with a 10-6 victory in last year^s semi-finals, but the world number one will not be chasing revenge on Thursday.
"We^ve played each other many times since and it doesn^t come into it at all now," he insisted. "It was a very bad day at the office for me at Wembley, and a very good day at the office for him."
King picked up his third win from four games when he saw off Terry Jenkins in Exeter last week, and admits that he is delighted with his start to the new season.
"There^s no whipping boys and no easy games - it^s the best eight players and you have to fight for your life for every point," he said.
"As long as I^m in the top four after 14 weeks then that^s all that matters and you don^t want to drop out of that. So the longer I can stay there the better, and it makes my job a little bit easier because you^re not chasing."
Reigning champion James Wade will open the show at the M.E.N. Arena when he takes on Lancashire-born Ronnie Baxter.
Wade lost his opening three games in a poor start to the season, but drew with Adrian Lewis last week and could move off the foot of the table with a win over Baxter, which he believes may silence his critics.
"One thing that is giving me a little bit of ammunition is people are writing me off and saying I can^t play darts any more," said Wade.
"That^s a load of rubbish but it^s just a matter of how long it takes me to start playing my best darts again.
"I know it^s there because of how I^ve been playing in patches. I know if I turn up I will beat anyone, and I^ve proven I can beat anyone, and I can do it regularly."
Five-time World Champion Raymond van Barneveld is seeking his first victory since the opening week when he faces Terry Jenkins, having lost to Adrian Lewis, Simon Whitlock and Phil Taylor since.
The night^s final game will see Adrian Lewis, who fought back to grab a draw with Wade last Thursday before winning a Players Championship in Germany on Sunday, take on Ladbrokes.com World Darts Championship runner-up Red Dragon’s Simon Whitlock
"Last week to get a draw from 7-4 down was great and I was delighted to win on Sunday," said Lewis. "Hopefully I can carry that form to Manchester now because it will be a hard game against Simon Whitlock.
"He^s got better each week in the Premier League and is playing well, and it will be a really entertaining match."
Over 7,000 tickets for the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts at the M.E.N. Arena have been sold, but a number remain on sale, priced at £20 and available on 0844 847 8000 or fromwww.men-arena.com.
March 11 - M.E.N. Arena, Manchester
James Wade v Ronnie Baxter
Phil Taylor v Mervyn King
Terry Jenkins v Raymond van Barneveld
Adrian Lewis v Simon Whitlock
Tickets: 0844 847 8000 orwww.men-arena.com
Sky Bet Match Odds
James Wade 1/2, Draw 4/1, Ronnie Baxter 3/1
Phil Taylor 1/3, Draw 5/1, Mervyn King 4/1
Terry Jenkins 5/4, Draw 7/2, Raymond van Barneveld 5/4
Adrian Lewis 5/4, Draw 7/2, Simon Whitlock 5/4
Sky Bet are the Official Bookmaker of the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts - for more information visitwww.skybet.com