Premier League 2016 - Preview second League Day

GARY ANDERSON will belatedly kick off his Betway Premier League title defence against Michael van Gerwen as the season visits Newcastle for Night Two on Thursday.

The World Champion was sidelined with a virus in Leeds a week ago and missed out on his chance to take on Adrian Lewis at the First Direct Arena. However, after recovering over the weekend the Scot faces world number one van Gerwen at the Metro Radio Arena in a repeat of the 2015 Premier League final which he won last May.

"Last week was a bit of a false start for me but I've had lots of rest and I'm looking forward to getting back up on stage," said Anderson. "I always enjoy playing Michael too and he's had an incredible year, so it's going to be tough for me but I'll be doing my best."

Anderson's absence meant that debutant Michael Smith was handed a tough debut night as he took on both Peter Wright and Adrian Lewis, with the former World Youth Champion suffering a brace of defeats. However, he is looking to bounce back when he faces reigning World Grand Prix champion Robert Thornton in week two.

"I just need to go up there and play my own game and naturally it will come for me," said Smith. "The Premier League's totally different to any other TV tournament and last week I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights. It was unfortunate that I had to play twice last week but now I've got my debut out of the way I can relax and focus, and hopefully I'll get the job done and play like I know I can."

Long-standing rivals James Wade and Phil Taylor meet in a rematch of two previous Premier League finals, with the Stoke great having won their 2008 and 2010 deciders. Wade, though, kicked off the season with an impressive defeat of world number one van Gerwen in Leeds and is in confident mood ahead of the Newcastle contest.

"Phil's a phenomenal dart player but I'm not worried about playing him," said Wade. "I've been on the wrong side of him many times but there's nothing he can throw at me that he hasn't already. If anything, I've got an advantage because I've never played my best against him. But Phil Taylor is Phil Taylor and in my opinion he's still the scariest player to play. I'm looking forward to playing darts at the moment; I'm excited, I'm keen, eager to play and I feel comfortable. At the moment I'm not playing really well but I am doing bits and bobs at certain times."

Adrian Lewis will play Dave Chisnall in a game between two high-fliers, after the pair kicked off the season with impressive wins in Leeds. Chisnall's whitewash of Thornton came before Lewis dropped just one leg in seeing off Smith as the Stoke star also topped a 100 average on a night which saw him produce a fine display with a new set of darts.

"My finishing last week was fantastic," said Lewis, who also won a UK Open Qualifier on Friday. "I'm still getting used to my new darts but I believe in my own ability and I can throw anything. I get a bit lazy with a lighter dart, whereas I've got to focus on every dart so that helps me a lot, mentally as well. Hopefully we'll have a great year with them as well."

Peter Wright and Raymond van Barneveld also clash after kicking off the season with memorable wins, with the 2014 Premier League champion landing seven doubles from nine attempts against Taylor as he too used a new set of darts.

"I was really happy with the win and I finished well," said van Barneveld. "I'd tried a new set-up in Leeds with some new darts and they were fantastic in practice, which gave me a lot of confidence so I want to keep that going now."

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