James Wade and Simon Whitlock will do battle at Manchester’s MEN Arena on Thursday evening, when table-topper Raymond van Barneveld will meet Robert Thornton on night six of the McCoy’s Premier League Darts season.
Wade, who sits second in the league table, is looking to build on an impressive run of form that has seen him take seven points from his five matches so far when he meets ‘The Wizard’, who also enjoyed victory in Nottingham last week.
“I normally start slowly so this is great,” admitted Wade, the world number three.
“Every game is important and I’m happy to be playing well and to have put myself at the right end of the table.
“I feel there is definitely more to come and I’m looking forward to playing Simon because if we are both on it, it should be a great game.”
Whitlock’s victory against Wes Newton last Thursday ended a three match losing streak for last year’s runner-up.
The Australian, who is just outside the relegation zone with four points to his name, is enjoying the new challenge of avoiding the dreaded drop.
He said: “This is the bees knees!
“I’ve been playing well over the last few weeks but haven’t always got great results, which shows the quality of this competition.
“The relegation twist has added some excitement and it is up to us players to make sure we are not going out of the tournament after nine weeks.
“I had to play well to beat Wes and I’ll have to play well to beat James or any player in the tournament. We have the ten best players in the world and that is why it is so close.”
League leader van Barneveld knows he has a tough task on his hands to stay top of the table when he takes on Robert Thornton, whose defeat to Wade was the first of his debut season.
‘Barney’, who saw off Andy Hamilton last week, has accumulated eight points already and is delighted with his start.
“Eight points should be enough for me not to have look over my shoulder at relegation,” said the Dutch ace.
“I will have to keep playing well because Robert has been awesome so far.
“We will see who gets relegated after nine weeks by aim is to continue this form, finish in the top four and go on and reach the final of this event for the first time.”
Michael van Gerwen, who also suffered his first Premier League defeat last week, will take on Newton in Manchester, while Adrian Lewis and Gary Anderson meet in the evening’s other fixture.
By Chris Murphy