Premier League Darts: Preview of final night at The O2 with top four darts stars in action
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SportsPaulH. Last Updated: 22/05/14 2:06pm
Semi-finalists for the Premier League Darts play-offs at The O2 (pic Lawrence Lustig)
After 15 weeks on the road, the Premier League Darts will reach its climax at the O2 on Thursday as part of Sky Sports' Ultimate Weekend.
Four players remain - reigning champion and favourite Michael van Gerwen finished top of the regular season table, and he plays Gary Anderson in the semi-finals before old foes Raymond van Barneveld and Phil Taylor lock horns once again.
MVG has now finished top the last two years, but Anderson will be no pushover, with the former Premier League champion unbeaten in his last seven games heading into the play-offs.
"To win the table again means a lot but I worked hard for it and it's paid off," said van Gerwen. "Now it's knockout and you can't afford to rely on what's happened in previous weeks, you have to play well on the night.
"I know I'm the favourite, but Gary is a great player and I have to make sure I don't make any mistakes and give him a chance to finish his doubles."
They are 1-1 in this year's Premier League, and having already beaten the Dutchman Anderson has been keen to insist he can do so again.
"Losing to Michael at the World Championship really was a kick up the backside for me and I've had a good year so far," said Anderson. "It's not revenge - I'm not worried about any of these boys.
"Michael's a great talent, but he's got to beat me. I'm not going to buckle against him and he's going to have to have the game of his life, and if he doesn't he's out. "
Barney v Taylor
The second semi-final between Barney and Taylor conjures up all sorts of memories from their rivalry, and they have both had revival seasons this season, with Barney finishing second again thanks to a 12-game unbeaten run.
The big Dutchman, though, has lost every one of his six semi-finals in this competition and has not once beaten The Power on a Premier League stage.
"It would be great to reach the final but it's not really in my mind that I've lost six semi-finals before," said Barney. "I'm thinking of winning this now and Phil will have to play his best darts, because if he doesn't then I'll be there, ready to beat him.
"To win the Premier League is a dream. I was focusing on this week and picturing myself lifting the trophy and it would be amazing to do it."
Six-time champion Taylor lost four of his first five matches this season after switching darts and again was written off by some, but he has come storming back and is unbeaten in 11 weeks heading into his semi-final.
"Barney and me have a great history, but it doesn't make a scrap of difference what happened with him in previous years, this is a new game," said Taylor.
"The other semi-final will be a cracker too because Gary's really on form at the minute.
"It's been the best Premier League ever and I'm really excited, and I think the semi-finals line-up will be great for the game.
"I've got to go up there and produce the goods on Thursday night and I've been working really hard - but the Premier League's a marathon, not a sprint, and I always said for people not to judge me at the start of the year but at the end."
Watch Live Premier League Darts Play Offs and Final, 7pm SS3