Michael van Gerwen can secure his place at the McCoy’s Premier League play-off finals with a positive result in Birmingham, where James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld will be looking to move closer to cementing their places inside the top four.
League leader van Gerwen is hoping to celebrate his 24th birthday by obtaining the point that would guarantee his place at London’s O2 in next month’s finals night but his opponent Simon Whitlock knows the importance of securing victory to keep his own bid alive.
Whitlock, who hit a nine-dart finish in last year’s play-offs and finished as runner-up, faces a double-header against world number two van Gerwen and the highest ranked player, Phil Taylor. But ‘The Wizard’ insisted that he is not daunted by the challenge.
“I’ve got the top two players in the world rankings but I’ll be looking to do some damage,” warned Whitlock, who has claimed back-to-back victories since surviving relegation.
“I know that I can beat both of these guys but you’ve got to play one match at a time. I need to get at least six points out of my next five matches to have a chance of reaching the play-offs but I’m going in the right direction.”
Second and third place will go head to head in Birmingham as Wade and van Barneveld clash at the NIA.
After the pair shared a draw in their previous meeting, Wade is confident of getting a result against the Dutch star.
“I won’t lose to him,” said ‘The Machine’, speaking to www.pdc.tv
“We drew the last time we played and I was awful. I had gastroenteritis and hadn’t slept for two days and I still got a draw.
“He has been getting good results but I don’t think he is at his very best and I’m starting to get closer to mine so I look forward to playing him.”
Thornton takes on Stoke pair Andy Hamilton and Adrian Lewis and is looking to close the gap on the top four, or even climb back into it, after falling two points behind fourth-placed Taylor.
“My focus is on the reaching the play-offs now,” said the Scottish ace.
“That can only be achieved one game at a time though and it starts again with a tough match on Thursday.
“A win against Andy started what has been an amazing first season in the McCoy’s Premier League for me and hopefully another one can kick-start my play-off push.
“Whatever happens then I have to prepare for Adrian Lewis. It will be a difficult night but it could be a very sweet one if it goes right.”
Taylor and Lewis face each other in the evening’s other match.
By Chris Murphy
Images courtesy of Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Latest League Table
|Michael van Gerwen||13||9||2||2||+27||32||99.25||20|
|Raymond van Barneveld||12||6||3||3||+10||31||98.50||15|