PHIL TAYLOR returns to the scene of his lowest point on Thursday as the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts visits Coventry’s Ricoh Arena.

Taylor slumped to second bottom in the Premier League table with an 8-3 defeat to Peter Manley last year – his third loss in the opening four weeks of the tournament.

Having missed out on most of the major titles during the previous year and changed his darts in a bid to find form, the loss – and Manley’s cheeky gesture by mimicking Taylor in giving away the dartboard in celebration of his win – marked a low point in the Stoke great’s career.

He bounced back the following week with an 8-0 win over Wayne Mardle, and averaged over 100 in each of his remaining games as he powered to the Premier League title.

In exactly a year since that defeat at Coventry, Taylor has reclaimed every major title bar the Blue Square UK Open, winning an incredible 207 of 218 games played since, drawing three and losing eight in claiming over £709,838 prize money since.

“Peter taking the board away was the straw which broke the camel’s back,” revealed Taylor, in the official Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts programme.

“It was just a bit of mickey taking, and he doesn’t mean anything by it, but in fact it was probably the best favour he’s ever done for me.

“People were saying I was finished, and even I was thinking ‘Something’s not right here.’

“I got off my backside, worked hard and raised my game again. I started playing as well on stage as off it and I stopped worrying.

“Hearing people write me off game me my edge back. It could hardly have gone better since.”

Taylor’s return to Coventry sees him take on Terry Jenkins, who took a win and a draw from their two meetings in last year’s Premier League and has started this season strongly.

“It will be a good game,” said Taylor. “Terry will probably play better than he has all season and I can’t wait for it.

“He’s a good player and I think he’ll be in the top four at the end of the 14 weeks.”

That clash is the first of four at the Ricoh Arena, with the players ranked second and third in the PDC Order of Merit, James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld, also meeting.

Both have picked up just one point from the opening two weeks, but World Championship finalist van Barneveld feels he is returning to form.

“I’m not playing my best game at the moment but it’s a tough competition,” said van Barneveld.

“I’ll have to perform well if I’m going to make it in the top four but it’s fantastic to be a part of it.”

Mervyn King, who has won his opening two games 8-1 to head the table on leg difference ahead of Taylor, meets John Part in the third game of the night.

“I’ve had two high pressure games and I’ve produced the goods,” said King. “You’re now starting to see the real Mervyn but there’s still more in the tank.

“It’s nice to play like that on stage, I do it in the floor tournaments regularly and there’s no reason that can’t carry on.

“I’ve been working hard over the last two years and it’s now starting to come like it should.”

The night’s final game sees Wayne Mardle, who hit a 160 finish to draw with Jenkins in Edinburgh last week, face young Dutchman Jelle Klaasen, who also has one point from the first two games.

“I’ve shown everyone that I don’t have to play brilliant to win a point,” said Mardle. “Like the great football teams, I can play badly and get a point.

“Last week was by far the most inconsistent I’ve played in the last year and the great thing for me was that Terry wasn’t punishing me, and I got away with a point.”

Some tickets still remain on sale for the Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts from the Ricoh Arena Box Office on 08444 121 747.

Whyte & Mackay Premier League Darts
Night Three – Ricoh Arena, Coventry

Terry Jenkins v Phil Taylor
Raymond van Barneveld v James Wade
Mervyn King v John Part
Wayne Mardle v Jelle Klaasen

Live on Sky Sports 1 from 7pm

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