GARY ANDERSON will put friendship aside as he takes on Michael Smith in the Unibet Premier League Play-Offs at The O2 on Thursday.
The two-time Premier League champion will be looking to make it title number three, kicking off with a mouth-watering semi-final clash against close friend Michael Smith, while Michael van Gerwen and Rob Cross face off in the other semi.
Anderson secured his Play-Off spot with a win over Van Gerwen in Aberdeen last week, and the Scottish star knows he will have to be at his best to beat his protégé Smith.
“He’s like my adopted son but I will be playing to win,” said Anderson, who recorded a 7-2 win over Smith in their last Premier League meeting in Rotterdam.
“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.
“It’ll be great playing Michael on such a massive stage and whichever one of us loses will be there cheering the other on 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!”
The two-time World Champion has qualified for finals night at The O2 for the fifth successive year, with his finest moment coming in 2015 when he defeated Van Gerwen in the final to lift his second Premier League crown.
Anderson is well aware of the stern test he faces to taste Premier League glory for a third time, but insists he is primed for the challenge.
“Of course, it’s going to be tough to win it on Thursday but I know I have the game to do it,” Anderson added.
“I’m not finished yet - old Gary can still turn up and play well and shock a few people.
“It’s getting to that crunch stage now, and normally that’s when my best game comes out."
The Scotland World Cup star fired in four 180s as he got back to winning ways against Van Gerwen last week, having lost his previous two Premier League encounters.
“I had a rotten couple of weeks before Aberdeen but that win over Michael shows I’ve still got it and now I’m coming into the Play-Offs on the back of a win," said Anderson, who will play Smith in the second semi-final of the evening.
“The 15 weeks is gone now and it’s all down to one night.
“It’s been hard since Rotterdam so I was pleased to get the win against Michael.
“I’ll be coming into the game with confidence in what I can do, I’ve done it many times before so I know I can do it again.”
The Unibet Premier League Play-Offs will be held on Thursday May 17 at The O2 in London. For tickets, visit www.axs.com or call 0844 856 0202.