Premier League Darts: Peter Wright bids to extend unbeaten run in Leeds
Last Updated: 20/03/14 6:48pm
Peter Wright: Colourful character puts his unbeaten record on the line on Thursday
World championship finalist Peter Wright is looking to extend his unbeaten start to the Betway Premier League Darts season when he faces Raymond van Barneveld in Leeds on Thursday.
Around 11,000 fans will pack into the new First Direct Arena - a record crowd for the tournament in its first visit to Leeds - for the seventh league night of the season.
Wright goes into his clash with van Barneveld boasting four wins and two draws so far in his debut season and he is determined to continue his unbeaten start.
"It was a dream at first, but now it's getting to the stage where I don't want to lose!" he admitted.
"I want to try and be unbeaten until at least the cut-off on Week Nine, and hopefully I'll do that.
"If not, it's going to be a tough game whoever beats me. I've got Raymond then Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson in the next couple of weeks, so I've got to be ready for them.
"It's going to be tough because Raymond's a fantastic player and a five-time world champion. I owe him a couple from a few previous events, including the UK Open a couple of years ago when I bust my score on 138 in the last leg and gifted him the game.
"That won't be happening again - if I get the chance I'll be making sure I take it out properly!"
The battle to avoid relegation intensifies with three games remaining before the bottom two players in the table are relegated.
Six-time Premier League Darts champion Phil Taylor could move out of the bottom two for the first time this season should he take victory from his clash with Wes Newton - who sits only a point above the 16-time World Champion but has a game in hand.
- Dave Chisnall v Simon Whitlock
- Robert Thornton v Adrian Lewis
- Gary Anderson v Michael van Gerwen
- Wes Newton v Phil Taylor
- Peter Wright v Raymond van Barneveld
Taylor had lost his opening three games, but picked up his second victory of the season against Dave Chisnall in Nottingham last week and believes that he is returning to his best with his new design of darts.
He said: "Last week was great for my confidence. I'm still in the mix at the bottom but I'll keep fighting and try not to get pushed out.
"It's a cruel game and it's a very lonely place on stage, and if you're not firing then your nerves start jangling and everything starts going through your mind.
"When I'm playing at my best, I don't think about anything, and that's the difference. I've had a lot of pressure and it's been a difficult few weeks for me.
"I've not been able to sleep - I've waking up at two, three, four, five o'clock in the morning thinking about different things to get my form back. We've been tweaking the darts each week and experimenting to try and get everything spot on, and it's there now.
"It was just altering the grip a little bit. I'm a very fussy player, I've got to get it spot on and I think we're 90 per cent there."
Another key clash sees bottom player Simon Whitlock - who has won just once this season - take on eighth-placed Chisnall, who has picked up four points so far in his debut season.
"It's a huge game for me, the biggest of the Premier League season so far," said Whitlock. "If I can get the victory, I will have a great chance of getting where I need to be at the end of Week Nine.
"I know it's pretty much a must-win game for me and I'll be approaching it like it's a knockout match. I'm under pressure to win matches but I'll be battling hard.
"I'm feeling good about the game and it's going to be a fantastic night."
2012 UK Open Robert Thornton could also be dragged into the relegation battle should he be defeated by Adrian Lewis - who claimed this year's UK Open title a fortnight ago.
The night's other game sees reigning Premier League Darts champion Michael van Gerwen face 2011 winner Anderson, with the Dutch star having produced his best display of the season to romp to a 7-1 win over Newton last week.
Watch all the action live on Sky Sports 2HD, with coverage from 7pm