Smith and Anderson do battle for Premier League final spot

Gary Anderson
Gary Anderson
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Gary Anderson and Michael Smith will put their close friendship to one side as they meet in the Unibet Premier League play-offs at The O2 tomorrow (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 his close friend from St Helens, Michael Smith, while holder Michael van Gerwen and current world champion 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-times 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.

“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.