Premier League Darts: Michael van Gerwen aims to avenge Rob Cross defeat
|Unibet Premier League Darts play-offs|
|Date: Thursday, 17 May Start: 19:15 BST Venue: O2 Arena, London|
|Coverage: Live text commentary of the semi-finals and final, followed by report, on the BBC Sport website and app|
Three-time Premier League Darts champion Michael van Gerwen will be aiming for more than just a pathway to the final when he faces Rob Cross on Thursday.
The 29-year-old's pursuit of a third PDC World Championship was ended with defeat by Cross in the semi-finals at the Alexandra Palace in December.
The pair face each other again at the semi-final stage this time in the latter stages of this season's Premier League Darts, as Van Gerwen looks to win his third consecutive and fourth Premier League title in total.
"Rob's not in the best form of his life, he's not got that edge to him that he had in the World Championships when he beat me," Van Gerwen said.
"But you always have to be careful with him because he is a danger."
The Dutchman sealed two 7-2 wins against Cross in the group stages and claimed the £25,000 league leader's bonus after finishing top of the table for the sixth season in a row.
And he goes into the final night of the Premier League campaign in decent form, having won the Dutch Darts Masters at the weekend.
"I like The O2, I like the tournament - it gives me a good target, week after week to fight for the points," the defending champion continued.
"It's difficult to win the Premier League year after year but I'm doing alright so far."
A 'fearless mindset'
Premier League debutant Cross says he is happy to face Van Gerwen.
The 27-year-old, who is number three on the PDC Order Of Merit, last faced Van Gerwen in a televised semi-final on his way to winning the 2018 World Championship.
"I will go into the match with a fearless mindset - if you want to win it you've got to beat the best players," Cross said.
"I'm happy to be playing Michael in the semis, because he never loses many of the finals he plays in but he has lost a few semis."
Cross, who won eight of his 16 matches to secure a top-four place, has won just two of his 12 encounters against Van Gerwen.
"It doesn't worry me that I've drawn my last few games because on Thursday we will play on until we have a winner," he continued.
"I wouldn't say I've played well every week, some nights I've struggled but done enough to keep the points ticking over and make The O2."
On the receiving end
Two-time Premier League champion Gary Anderson will be looking to make it title number three when he faces Michael Smith in the night's other semi-final.
Anderson, 47, wrapped up a play-off spot by beating Van Gerwen in Aberdeen on 10 May and will play his close friend Smith for a place in the final.
"Whoever wins will be on the wind-up for the next fortnight and neither of us wants to be on the receiving end," Anderson said.
"He's like my adopted son but I will be playing to win.
"He's my mate and we get on really well, but it doesn't matter what game we're playing, I always want to win."
Meanwhile, Smith has lofty ambitions for his chances in this year's competition as he prepares to face Anderson, who he beat 7-5 on the opening night of the season.
"I believe I can win the Premier league," Smith said.
"I've won two games in a day against the world's best players many times before so there's no reason why I can't do it again at The O2.
"I would love to be introduced to the stage at the World Matchplay in July as the reigning champion of the Premier League."
The group stage in numbers
- Highest average - 111.57 - Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross, week 13, Birmingham
- Most legs won - 103 - Michael van Gerwen
- Highest checkout - 170 - Michael van Gerwen and Gary Anderson
- Biggest margin of victory - 7-0 - Michael Smith v Raymond van Barneveld, Belfast, March 29
- Highest tournament average - 103.57 - Michael van Gerwen