VAN GERWEN TARGETS TOP SPOT AS BETWAY PREMIER LEAGUE VISITS BIRMINGHAM
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN could secure the Betway Premier League's top spot when he doubles up in Birmingham on Thursday, as Peter Wright bids to seal his Play-Off place.
World Champion Van Gerwen has topped the league table in each of his previous four seasons in the Premier League, going on to take the trophy in 2013 and 2016 by winning the final.
The Dutchman sits two points clear of Wright going into Night 13 at the Barclaycard Arena, and plays twice as he faces Dave Chisnall and Adrian Lewis.
Van Gerwen could end the night with an unassailable lead at the top of the standings, earning him the 25,000 pound League Winner's Bonus - an achievement he is bidding to ensure he completes.
"Four points is my target," states Van Gerwen. "You never know what's going to happen - Adrian is playing good darts at the moment and Dave played well last week, but I want to make sure I get four points and make sure I'm clear at the top of the table so no-one can catch me.
"I want to be top of the table and that's where I am. I've done this for every year I've been in the Premier League and I want to keep it going.
"I've got to remain focused and I don't want to make any mistakes, and it doesn't look like I will because I'm playing really well. I'm playing always over the 100 average now so I've raised my game to a standard no-one has touched.
"I love to play well and perform really good, and that keeps me motivated. I feel good and I want to make the difference with these two games."
Second-placed Wright can also mathematically secure his first Premier League Play-Off appearance in Birmingham when he takes on six-time champion Phil Taylor.
The UK Open champion enters the night on a high following his second European Tour victory of the year in Germany last weekend, and said: "I'm in with a chance of getting into the semi-finals, and hopefully I'll make it.
"There are only three games left and I'm in a good position but it's not over yet so I've got to carry on trying to win.
"Phil beat me last time we played, but I want to get him back this week. He's so relaxed that he doesn't care, and that's why he's dangerous now.
"He's going to be a major threat to the title. He's not rolling over because it's his last year, he's up there with the attitude to fight for every leg so hats off to him."
Another huge clash on the night sees the players tied on 14 points in fourth and fifth place - Gary Anderson and Raymond van Barneveld - face off, with the latter bidding to bounce back from his defeat to Van Gerwen last week.
"It's very hard to predict what will happen in this Premier League," said Van Barneveld. "All I can do is think about my game and prepare as well as I can because the standard is so high.
"If I win my last three games then I will make the Play-Offs, and that's what I'm aiming to do."
2011 Premier League finalist Lewis, who sits on 13 points, also doubles up on a key night in Birmingham.
Lewis - who hit a nine-darter a fortnight ago in Liverpool - meets Van Gerwen after earlier taking on James Wade in the night's opening fixture, knowing that he can also end the 2009 champion's feint Play-Off hopes.
"It's a massive night and I'm looking forward to it," said Lewis. "It's so tight in the league but I know if I can win both games I'll be in a really good position.
"I've been playing well and I know I can beat both James and Michael, but it's up to me to go out there and do it on Thursday."
After winning twice in Belfast last Thursday, Chisnall is aiming to continue his Play-Off push when he meets Van Gerwen - although he has to end a 14-game losing run against the world number one if he is to close on the top four.
"I always go into games against Michael full of confidence but I don't know what happens with him, but I'm going to be doing my best," said Chisnall.
"I've got three points to go and there's six points up for grabs, and if I can keep playing like I did in Belfast then I can pick up six points. I scored well last week but I also finished well too and took my chances."
Thirteenth Night Matches
James Wade v Adrian Lewis
Dave Chisnall v Michael van Gerwen
Phil Taylor v Peter Wright
Gary Anderson v Raymond van Barneveld
Adrian Lewis v Michael van Gerwen