RECORD-BREAKER Phil Taylor and reigning champion Gary Anderson clash as the McCoy’s Premier League Darts visits The Brighton Centre on Thursday night.

Taylor hit the highest average in the history of the Premier League Darts when he recorded a 117.35 total in his 8-4 win over Simon Whitlock in Exeter last week.

The achievement followed his nine-dart finish in Aberdeen and two other 112-plus averages this season, leaving him unbeaten at the top of the table going into his clash with Anderson on Thursday.

“I’m looking to keep improving,” said Taylor. “Everything I’m doing’s working well at the moment and I was delighted last week, but I know I’ve got to play well again against Gary.

“He’s a world-class player and he’s come back into form, so I’ll have to try and get on top of him early on. Games like this, when you’re playing a player at the top of their game, is where the big averages and nine-darters come.”

Since losing to Kevin Painter on the opening night of the season, Anderson has won three successive games and saw off World Champion Adrian Lewis 8-1 in Exeter last Thursday.

“I’m pleased with how my game’s coming back but I’ll have to be at my best in Brighton,” said Anderson. “Phil’s playing some brilliant darts at the moment and setting the standard for us all.

“My aim is to hit a 120-plus average on stage, because I’ve done it in practice recently, and I might have to do that to defeat Phil. But averages won’t matter on Thursday if I can get a result.”

Former champion James Wade, the 2009 winner, is looking to pick up a second successive victory when he takes on Raymond van Barneveld in Brighton.

The left-hander had lost his first three matches but held off Painter to record an 8-6 win last week.

“I didn’t put any pressure on myself last week and went out to enjoy the game, and I made the most of my opportunities,” said Wade. “I did enough to win last week but I’m really looking forward to playing Raymond.

“He’s had a good start to the season and I enjoy playing him, so it will be a good test for me.”

Van Barneveld followed up two previous draws with his first triumph of the campaign in Exeter, as he came from 6-4 down to see off Andy Hamilton 8-6.

World Championship finalist Hamilton, who has a 50 percent win record this season, meets fellow Premier League newcomer Kevin Painter in Brighton, and said: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

“I’ve shown I’ve got the form to play good darts and it will come good in the end. I’m looking forward to every week – this is what I want to play darts for.”

The night’s other game sees World Champion Lewis bidding for his first victory of the season when he plays Whitlock, with last week’s defeat to Anderson following three previous draws for the world number two.

Whitlock – the victim of last week’s record average by Taylor – is entering the match under no illusions after seeing the Stoke star claim his second World Championship title two months ago.

“I love playing against the best players in the world and that’s why the McCoy’s Premier League this year is absolutely brilliant, because it’s the eight best players in the world and all the games are tough,” said Whitlock.

“It’s no easier [than last week] when I play Adrian, but although he’s deserved to win two World Championships I still believe Phil’s the best player in the world.

“Adrian’s the World Champion and can still throw a 105 average for fun, but if I can play like I did against Phil I’ll be happy and I should get a result.”

The McCoy’s Premier League Darts will be live on Sky Sports 1HD from 7pm on Thursday night, with a small number of tickets remaining on sale from 0844 847 1515 or via www.ticketmaster.co.uk.

McCoy’s Premier League Darts
Week Five
March 8 – The Brighton Centre

Kevin Painter v Andy Hamilton
Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld
Simon Whitlock v Adrian Lewis
Tickets: 0844 847 1515 or www.ticketmaster.co.uk

Week Five Match Odds, courtesy of www.williamhill.com
Kevin Painter v Andy Hamilton

6/5 Kevin Painter
4/1 Draw
6/5 Andy Hamilton

Phil Taylor v Gary Anderson
2/5 Phil Taylor
5/1 Draw
7/2 Gary Anderson

James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld
6/5 James Wade
4/1 Draw
6/5 Raymond van Barneveld

Simon Whitlock v Adrian Lewis
Evs Simon Whitlock
9/2 Draw
11/8 Adrian Lewis
William Hill are the official betting partner of the McCoy’s Premier League Darts.

Source -PDC