The Greatest Now vs The Greatest Ever
MICHAEL VAN GERWEN admits that Thursday's Betway Premier League clash with Phil Taylor can rightly be labelled as the 'greatest ever versus the greatest at present' as the two great rivals prepare to face off in Glasgow.
Van Gerwen and Taylor both travel to Glasgow in top form after winning five successive Betway Premier League games since their opening-night defeats in Leeds last month.
While 16-time World Champion Taylor has returned to his best in recent weeks, with his performances including a whitewash of Robert Thornton in Nottingham last Thursday, van Gerwen has smashed the Stoke great's world record televised average and averaged over 110 four times in six matches.
The Dutch star has also retained his Masters and UK Open titles already in 2016, won a European Tour event and three other UK Open Qualifiers to stamp his mark as the leading player in the sport at present.
"I think I'm the best darts player at the moment, but Phil is the greatest player who's ever lived and he's still a fantastic player," said van Gerwen.
"I know I'm the number one in the world and people will say the pressure's on me, but the pressure is on him - or he will put the pressure on himself because I know Phil Taylor.
"I don't have a point to prove, I think Phil has a point to prove because I've beaten him the last few times on television. He's the greatest who ever lived in darts.
"Myself and Phil is probably the best game and I hope we can both play really well. Phil is the greatest player who ever lived but I think I'm playing the best darts that have ever been thrown and I'm showing some fantastic performances."
Van Gerwen has won six successive televised games against Taylor since August 2014, although Taylor missed match darts in their Masters semi-final in January and also led in both November's Grand Slam final and the recent UK Open semi-final.
"Me and Phil always have great games and I've beaten him the last few times on television, and every time I've come back from behind," added van Gerwen.
"Against Phil you need to take your chances. Phil can go in front but he always has a little weak spot in the game and I always take advantage of that little moment, and I need to make sure I do exactly the same.
"I'm playing fantastic darts. I need to make sure I use my confidence and my ability.
"Phil is the greatest that's ever lived, but I need to make sure I keep these performances going. I think I'm playing better than everyone ever did, because the averages and the statistics say so, and I just need to make sure I keep this going.
"I know I'm playing really well but I know that can do better than this - I know I'm taking this to the next level but you also need to stay there and that's the difficult thing."
2016 Betway Premier League - Top Ten Averages So Far
123.40 - Michael van Gerwen 7-1 Michael Smith (Week Four)
116.67 - Michael van Gerwen 7-2 Peter Wright (Week Five)
115.25 - Phil Taylor 7-5 Dave Chisnall (Week Four)
113.47 - Michael van Gerwen 7-2 Dave Chisnall (Week Six)
111.88 - Michael van Gerwen 7-3 Gary Anderson (Week Two)
111.20 - Phil Taylor 7-1 James Wade (Week Two)
109.63 - Dave Chisnall 5-7 Phil Taylor (Week Four)
108.98 - Peter Wright 2-7 Michael van Gerwen (Week Five)
107.93 - Adrian Lewis 7-3 Peter Wright (Week Six)
106.79 - Peter Wright 3-7 Adrian Lewis (Week Six)
Betway Premier League
Night Seven - March 17
The SSE Hydro, Glasgow
Gary Anderson v Adrian Lewis
James Wade v Robert Thornton
Michael van Gerwen v Phil Taylor
Raymond van Barneveld v Dave Chisnall
Gary Anderson v Peter Wright