Premier League preview: Phil Taylor takes on Adrian Lewis in Bournemouth
Phil Taylor bids to kick-start his Premier League season against Stoke rival Adrian Lewis in Bournemouth on Thursday.
Last Updated: 14/02/14 4:15pm
Taylor suffered a nightmare start to the new season on the opening night in Liverpool last Thursday, when reigning champion Michael van Gerwen picked up an unprecedented whitewash victory over The Power.
That game marked Taylor's return to action following a six-week break after the World Championship, in which he underwent dramatic recent weight loss and was playing with new darts.
But the 16-time World Champion used the three UK Open Qualifiers last weekend to gain valuable match practice, with the 53-year-old notching two nine-dart finishes in Sunday's third event, including one in the final as he defeated Lewis 6-2.
The pair will lock horns once again in Bournemouth on Thursday, with Taylor also drawing on the memories of his wins over Lewis in the finals of the World Matchplay and The Masters last year, as well as their classic Grand Slam of Darts semi-final.
"I'm really looking forward to playing Adrian," said Taylor. "The weekend was great for me. It was brilliant to win Sunday's qualifier but the weekend as a whole did me the world of good.
"To play in three tournaments was really good match practice, and to top it off with two nine-darters was the icing on the cake.
"I've had a ProTour weekend before where I've hit nine-darters in successive days but only ever hit two in the same day in the Premier League final (against James Wade in 2010), so that's a nice achievement.
"I'm working hard with my new darts and it can take a bit of time to settle sometimes, but this shows that I'm going in the right direction.
"After the game we've just had on Sunday I'm looking forward to playing Adrian again on Thursday - he knows what he's up against!"
Reigning European Champion Lewis, in contrast, made a brilliant start to the season with a 7-1 win over Simon Whitlock in Liverpool, and also reached two finals in the weekend's UK Open Qualifiers.
He said: "Kicking off with a great win last week was perfect for me and I want to keep that going against Phil. I'll be ready for him, but I know he'll be ready for me too!
"I said last week that it might take him a little bit of time to get used to his new darts, and he showed that at the weekend in Wigan. Hopefully that's got the defeat to Michael out of his system.
"After hitting a nine-darter against me I know what he can do with his new darts and I'll have to play well - but I'm in good form and I feel great going into the game."
In other action at the BIC, van Gerwen will hope to continue his strong start to his defence of the title when he plays Robert Thornton, with the Scot having paid for missed doubles against Dave Chisnall a week ago.
Compatriot Raymond van Barneveld returns to the venue where he landed the Premier League's first nine-darter, back in 2006 against Peter Manley.
The Dutchman takes on Wes Newton in Thursday's opening game, and is on a high following his superb 7-2 win over Gary Anderson in Liverpool.
Newcomers Chisnall and Peter Wright will be looking to continue their bright starts to the tournament when they clash in Bournemouth, having enjoyed debut victories in Liverpool.
The night's other game sees 2011 champion Anderson take on 2012 runner-up Whitlock, with both having suffered defeats on the opening night last week.
Watch all the action from Bournemouth live on Sky Sports 2 HD from 7pm on Thursday.