PHIL Taylor is bidding to maintain his position at the head of the McCoy's Premier League Darts table when the 10-player tournament returns to Westpoint Arena this evening (Thursday).
Taylor will take on world No. 4 James Wade in one of five matches being held as darts' huge roadshow event visits Clyst St Mary in week four of the 14-night league season.
World champion Taylor tops the league table after winning two and drawing one of his opening three matches.
Five players, including Wade and Dutch pair Raymond van Barneveld and Michael van Gerwen, sit just behind Taylor on four points in the league table – with all 10 stars bidding to avoid elimination following nine weeks in this year's revamped tournament.
"I'm really enjoying the Premier League so far this year," said Taylor. "It's a hard slog and you're not going to win the Premier League in the first few weeks – but you can lose it!
"The relegation factor is bringing a different pressure to everyone and the boys further down are starting to feel it. It's not always about losing but about how you play when you lose, and you've got to play well week-in, week-out."
The night will also feature a crucial battle at the foot of the table, as winless pair Adrian Lewis and Wes Newton clash.
Newcomer Newton picked up his first point of the season last week when he drew with Thornton in Bournemouth – although after leading 6-3 was "gutted" not to close out victory – while Lewis lost 7-4 to Wade to suffer a third straight defeat.
"It's a massive game for both of us because neither of us want to be where we are in the table and whoever loses is going to be in a really bad position," said Fleetwood's Newton.
The night in Devon also features the all-Scottish clash between UK Open champion Thornton and 2009 Premier League champion Gary Anderson – who is now based in Somerset.
"I only live a few miles away so it's a nice short journey for me for a change and hopefully I'll have plenty of local support!" said Anderson.
"It's exciting to play Robert because he's doing all right so far, it's his first year in the Premier League and he's enjoying it. We played together in the World Cup last month but we'll be beating each other up on stage in Exeter."
Van Gerwen travels to Westpoint fresh from last Thursday's defeat of van Barneveld winning both Speedy Services UK Open Qualifiers last weekend. He takes on last year's semi-finalist Andy Hamilton.