Premier League darts: Gary Anderson faces fellow Scot Robert Thornton in Belfast
Last Updated: 20/02/14 8:00pm
Gary Anderson: Takes on fellow Scot Robert Thornton in Belfast
Betway Premier League Darts continues on Thursday night in Belfast with Gary Anderson taking on Robert Thornton in a tasty all-Scottish clash, while six-time champion Phil Taylor bids to claim his first win.
Thornton is joined by Simon Whitlock and Taylor at the foot of the table following the opening two weeks of the ten-player event, with that trio having lost each of their opening two games.
Thornton, who has been defeated 7-5 by Dave Chisnall and Michael van Gerwen so far this season, faces a tough task against Scottish rival Anderson, but has happy memories of their meeting in last year's Premier League.
"An all-Scottish game with Robert (Thornton) will be fun too and I'm really looking forward to it. It's an important game for Robert too so I'm sure we'll be getting stuck into each other."
The former UK Open champion averaged 109.33 - the highest average recorded in last year's event - in a brilliant performance as he saw off Anderson 7-2 in Exeter.
Thornton is now hoping that facing the same opponent in Belfast will produce a similar performance, and result, to get his challenge in the tournament up and running.
"It's always special for me playing another Scottish player on the big stage and playing Gary last year seemed to bring the best out of me," admitted Thornton.
"I was on fire when we played last year and I'll need to get back towards that form again because Gary's been in top form in the last few weeks."
Anderson, the German Darts Championship winner at the start of February, bounced back from his opening-night loss to Raymond van Barneveld with a clinical win over Whitlock in Bournemouth last Thursday.
Betway Premier League Darts: Week Three
Robert Thornton v Gary Anderson
Dave Chisnall v Michael van Gerwen
Peter Wright v Phil Taylor
Wes Newton v Adrian Lewis
Raymond van Barneveld v Simon Whitlock
"An all-Scottish game with Robert will be fun too and I'm really looking forward to it. It's an important game for Robert too so I'm sure we'll be getting stuck into each other," said Anderson.
Taylor faces Wright
The night also sees six-time champion Taylor, who has lost out to van Gerwen and Adrian Lewis in the opening two weeks, looking to kick-start his challenge against Peter Wright.
Newcomer Wright, the World Championship finalist in January, has picked up three points from his opening two games and said: "I've never beaten Phil before and it will be a huge occasion for me to play him in a brilliant arena like Belfast.
"I'm pleased to have got a win and a draw in the last two weeks but I'm not happy with how I've played so I'm working hard on the practice board because I'll have to improve against Phil if I'm going to break my duck."
Australian ace Whitlock, meanwhile, has lost to both Lewis and Anderson ahead of his meeting with Raymond van Barneveld, and admitted: "I need to get some points on the board and I'm determined to do that this week.
"I don't want to be involved in the relegation battle after nine weeks so it's important that I start to get some results, but Raymond's a class player and I know how tough it's going to be on Thursday."
At the other end of the table, van Gerwen is hoping to follow up Sunday's triumph in the Dutch Darts Masters with a third successive victory to open the defence of his Premier League title.
"I've had a great start to the season and winning the Dutch Darts Masters is another boost for my confidence," said van Gerwen. "I want to keep this going now and play even better against Dave."
Despite being a debutant on the Premier League stage in 2014, Chisnall has picked up a win over Thornton and a draw with Wright from his opening two games.
"It's going to be a great occasion playing Michael and I'm really excited by it," said Chisnall. "I've been a bit nervous going up against Robert and Peter but I can relax and enjoy my darts in Belfast because all the pressure's on Michael."
The night's other game sees unbeaten Lewis, who has impressed in two straight victories, taking on Wes Newton, who opened his account with a comeback victory over van Barneveld in Bournemouth.
Watch all the action from Belfast live on Sky Sports 2 HD from 7pm on Thursday.