ANDERSON CHASING TOP-FOUR SPOT AS BETWAY PREMIER LEAGUE VISITS SHEFFIELD
GARY ANDERSON is aiming to cement his place in the Betway Premier League Play-Offs as he faces James Wade at The Sheffield Arena on Thursday, as Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor face off.
Two-time Premier League champion Anderson is aiming to become the third player, behind Van Gerwen and Peter Wright, to secure his top four spot as Sheffield hosts the season's penultimate league night.
Anderson sits on 16 points in the table, one ahead of fourth-placed Phil Taylor and two clear of Raymond van Barneveld, and knows that he can ensure his place at The O2 on May 18 when he meets Wade on Thursday.
The Scot defeated Van Barneveld with a fine display in Birmingham last week, and is on a high after winning Sunday's Players Championship in Wigan.
"I'm playing okay and I'm happy with where I am in the table but obviously I want to win on Thursday and make sure I get in the Play-Offs," said Anderson.
"It's tight in the table and every point's crucial. I'm looking forward to the last couple of weeks because James is still fighting and he'll be up for it, but so will I."
Wade still has an outside hope of reaching the Play-Offs, although he will need to defeat Anderson and Dave Chisnall in his final two matches and hope that other results work in his favour.
Victory over Adrian Lewis a week ago kept Wade's hopes alive, but the 2009 Premier League champion admits he may have a tall order if he is to snatch a top-four finish following a four-game losing run in mid-season.
"I am where I am in the table but it might be too late now," admitted the left-hander. "There's a chance but you should never leave it this late or put yourself in this position.
"I started the season okay and it hasn't gone so well in the latter stages, but there are no excuses.
"I want to be an inconvenience to the other players who need the points, and if I can get two wins then that's great. The standard has been spectacular this season and the lads are giving the crowds something special to watch."
Taylor could also seal a Play-Off place for his farewell Premier League season should he defeat Van Gerwen and other results go his way.
"Getting into the top four has been the target all season and it would be great if I can make it into the semi-finals," said Taylor.
"Even though I'm fourth it's really tight, so I've just got to try and get the result against Michael. I love playing against him and it should be another good match."
League leader and reigning champion Van Gerwen ended his double-header in Birmingham with a whitewash of Lewis, before hitting a nine-darter as he won a Players Championship on Saturday.
"I'm feeling great and it's good that I qualified, but I want to make sure I finish top of the table so I want to keep my form going," said the World Champion.
"I know if I win I will finish top so I'm aiming for that against Phil. It's never easy against him but I'm confident and playing well."
Chisnall has boosted his Play-Off ambitions with two wins and three draws during a five-match unbeaten run, and he meets Van Barneveld in Sheffield.
"I'm still in with a shout and I'll prepare myself like I have for the last few weeks," said Chisnall.
"If I could have started the league like I'm ending it I'd probably be top, but I still think I can get through. Raymond's a great player so I'll just keep playing my own game and hopefully I can keep getting the results."
The night's other game in Sheffield sees Lewis meet UK Open champion Wright, who has to win to keep up the pressure on Van Gerwen in the battle to claim the 25,000 pound League Winner's Bonus.
"I've got two games to play and I want to take four points and push Michael for that top spot," said Wright. "I'm looking to finish top and I've been working hard on the practice board to get myself ready for this.
"I'm looking forward to it because Adrian's a fantastic player and he showed with his nine-darter a few weeks ago how good he can be."
Fourteenth Night Matches
Peter Wright v Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld v Dave Chisnall
James Wade v Gary Anderson
Michael van Gerwen v Phil Taylor