Premier League 2016 - Preview eighth League Day

ROBERT THORNTON faces a make-or-break night in his Betway Premier League season as he doubles up at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Thursday against basement rival Michael Smith and table-topper Michael van Gerwen.

The World Grand Prix champion has endured a tough season so far, picking up just one draw from his six matches so far, as well as missing the second week of the campaign through illness.
Thornton will play his game in hand - against Smith - to kick off Thursday's action in Liverpool before meeting world number one van Gerwen in his second match of the night. With the league's bottom two players being eliminated following next week's Judgement Night in Cardiff, Thornton admits that his hopes of overhauling Smith or Dave Chisnall - who both sit on three points in the middle of the basement battle - rest on his results in Liverpool.

"It's a huge night for me and my attitude is definitely that I'm down but not out," said the Scot. "I know that I'm going to have to win at least two of my last three games to give myself a chance of avoiding elimination so if I could get two wins on Thursday it would be a massive boost. The Michael Smith game is a huge one as win would be not only taking two points for myself but taking two away from another player who is fighting for survival. If I can at the very least win that match, it will give me a fighting chance and a confidence boost ahead of the second game against Michael van Gerwen, who I know I can beat and I've proved that before."
Thornton averaged over 100 in his defeat to James Wade last week in Glasgow, and was pleased with his response to suffering a whitewash against Phil Taylor in Week Six.
"My game was back against James Wade last week but he was at the top of his game and I just came up short," he added. "One thing I can promise is that I will fight right until the end - I don't know any other way and it's not over yet."

St Helens-born Chisnall takes on reigning Premier League champion Gary Anderson in his clash at the Echo Arena, having lost his last four matches to be drawn into the elimination battle. Anderson has won five straight matches after overcoming his early-season illness, but he said: "Chizzy's a top player and he nearly beat me in last year's semi-finals so I won't be taking anything for granted. You've got to take it one game at a time because that standard in this Premier League has been incredible, but I'm out to win it."

2014 Premier League champion Raymond van Barneveld sits on six points after picking up a high-quality win over Chisnall a week ago in Glasgow, and the Dutchman admits his clash with Adrian Lewis is another huge contest as he bids to secure survival ahead of Judgement Night.

"I'm hoping to get through to be part of the rest of the season and it's another important match against Adrian," said van Barneveld. "I've got six points but I want to win and Adrian got beaten last week so he's vulnerable. He's a great guy and an incredible player."

The night's other game sees six-time Premier League champion Phil Taylor - who is level on 11 points at the top of the table with van Gerwen after their draw in Glasgow - facing Peter Wright, who has slipped to three successive defeats

"Michael's been inspiring me and even though I'm playing Peter my mentality is that I'm playing against Michael," said Taylor. I'm not going to miss doubles this week so Peter had better be ready! I'm loving every minute of it this season and it's exciting."

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