VAN GERWEN AND WRIGHT CLASH AS BETWAY PREMIER LEAGUE VISITS NOTTINGHAM
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN is bidding to bounce back to winning ways when the Betway Premier League visits Nottingham on Thursday, as Phil Taylor and James Wade prepare to clash at the Motorpoint Arena.
Reigning Premier League champion Van Gerwen opened the new season with a high-quality draw against Gary Anderson in Newcastle last Thursday.
The result ended Van Gerwen's winning streak on TV at 37 matches, although the Dutchman has now not been defeated in a televised game since last September.
The world number one also endured a disappointing weekend in the three UK Open Qualifiers in Wigan, but is looking to bounce back when he takes on world number three Peter Wright in Nottingham.
"Obviously I want to win every game but I'm not a robot and last week showed that I'm human," said Van Gerwen. "I was disappointed last week but I was the better player and I know I'm playing well. It's a good thing for me because I know I have to keep working hard and it means I will be focused on the Premier League this week. It's Peter Wright this week and I always enjoy playing against him, he's been fantastic and I know I have to perform against him."
Wright enters the clash in top form, having impressed in his opening-night win over Jelle Klaasen in Newcastle before winning two of the three UK Open Qualifiers last weekend.
Those successes included his first win over Van Gerwen for over 18 months as he picked up a 6-4 success in Sunday's quarter-finals - ending a 16-match losing run against the world number one.
"I'm very satisfied with how the weekend went and I feel really good," said Wright. "I've changed a few things and it's working. Michael's the guy to beat and it's up to the other players if they want to stop him winning all the trophies. I'm putting the work in and Gary's been in a couple of finals with him and been a bit unlucky so he's obviously putting the work in too. Michael's still very hard to beat and that's good because I'm up for it and I want it to be a great match, not just for us but for the fans and for everyone watch on Sky Sports."
The visit to Nottingham also features a repeat of two previous Premier League as six-time champion Phil Taylor takes on 2009 winner James Wade, with both players having taken victory on the opening night.
With 2017 set to be Taylor's final year on the circuit, Wade is relishing the chance to continue his rivalry with the 16-time World Champion at darts' highest level.
"He's done it for 30 years, more than anyone else ever will, and he's the best player that will ever walk the planet," said Wade. "There will never be another one like him. Phil doesn't do the magical finishing he used to do but he's still good enough to beat any player in the world quite comfortably. He's not as consistent and as aggressive as he used to be, he's not the dominant person he used to be and the same angry, hungry animal - and if he was he'd be the best player in the world still."
2014 Premier League champion Raymond van Barneveld is bidding to follow up last week's comeback victory against Adrian Lewis when he takes on Belgian ace Kim Huybrechts in Nottingham.
Lewis faces Dave Chisnall, while two-time Premier League champion Anderson takes on Klaasen in the night's other contest.
Second Night's Matches:
Adrian Lewis v Dave Chisnall
James Wade v Phil Taylor
Jelle Klaasen v Gary Anderson
Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen
Kim Huybrechts v Raymond van Barneveld