Van Gerwen eyes Dublin double
Author: Sky Sports Darts
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Michael van Gerwen is looking to extend his lead at the top of the McCoy's Premier League Darts in Dublin on Thursday.
Van Gerwen's victories over Taylor and James Wade when the tournament visited Sheffield last week saw the debutant move two points clear at the head of the league table.
The Dutch youngster will take on Raymond van Barneveld and Adrian Lewis in Dublin, and knows that another double could see him pull clear at the head of the standings with just a month remaining until the play-offs.
"I'm top of the table now and I want to keep my place there," said Van Gerwen. "I'm really happy with how I'm playing and I'm very confident at the moment.
"Last week was a difficult night for me but I walked away with four points against Phil Taylor and James Wade, and it would be great to do it again in Dublin.
"I like to play Raymond, and I think it's a game that everyone else likes to see at the moment too because we've had some great matches in the Grand Slam final and at the Premier League earlier this year.
"I'm looking forward to playing Adrian too because he beat me earlier this season, so it would be nice to win this time. It's two big games for me in a great venue and I'm going to enjoy it."
Van Barneveld is looking to avenge his only two defeats this season when he meets Van Gerwen and Phil Taylor - who sits in fifth place in the table - at a sold-out O2 in Dublin.
He was defeated 7-3 by Van Gerwen in Bournemouth and also went down by the same scoreline to Taylor in Glasgow - but is confident that he can claim his first Premier League win over the world number one in Dublin.
Van Barneveld said: "This week is going to be interesting! I've got Michael van Gerwen and Phil Taylor, the number one and two in the world, but I don't mind - you have to play them at some stage so I don't mind playing them both in one night.
"I have to play the board, and I would be really happy to have two draws or one win out of two, and I'll focus on two points. To get four points against both of them would be tough.
"Michael is playing really well but Phil's not been playing his A-game for weeks and he's had three losses out of four weeks. He's really vulnerable and I've got to take advantage of that.
"He's a close friend, but on stage it would be nice to finally beat him in the Premier League. He's class, fantastic, the best ever - but it would give me a good feeling to beat him in the Premier League.
"Michael's proved he can play very good darts, but Adrian Lewis, who's last at the moment, beat him so you never know. If you hit your scores and hit your doubles, anything can happen."
Taylor is also facing an important night in Dublin, as he opens the six matches on the evening against Stoke rival Andy Hamilton before returning to face Van Barneveld.
The reigning champion sits a point adrift of the top four after suffering a fourth defeat of the season last week to van Gerwen.
Wade and Robert Thornton meet in a clash of two play-off contenders, with the Scot aiming to continue his superb debut Premier League season.
"It will be a great crowd and hopefully James and I will bring our best games and give them plenty to cheer," said Thornton.
"James' finishing is second to none at the moment, he isn't missing much, so if I bring my A-game then it should be interesting."
Australian Simon Whitlock kick-started his play-off challenge with a victory over Thornton last week, a win which moved him off the foot of the league table above Lewis, and he meets Hamilton in Dublin.
Whitlock said: "I'm feeling confident. I'm playing well at the moment and I've been pretty consistent overall this year. Andy got a win over me earlier in the season so I'll be trying to get him back for that, and hopefully I can keep pushing towards the top four."
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