Phil Taylor claims he has ‘got the measure’ of Michael van Gerwen after fighting back from 5-1 down to snatch a point against ‘The Green Machine’ on Thursday evening at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow.
Taylor, who has won just 1 of his last 11 games against van Gerwen, was in bullish mood after producing an unlikely comeback against the Dutchman. “Players are going to pick up on this now. You’ve got to finish against Michael; don’t give him a shot. His finishing is fantastic, but he’s beatable, and I’m going to get him,” Taylor insisted.
Van Gerwen and Taylor have mirrored each other’s results in this year’s campaign. They both tasted defeat on the opening night, losing to James Wade and Raymond van Barneveld respectively. However since then, both men had recorded five successive victories, prior to sharing the spoils on Scottish soil.
Van Gerwen appeared to have seized control of the contest when he produced a remarkable 170 checkout to lead 6-4. MvG has recorded a staggering amount of maximum 170 finishes in recent weeks, although Taylor was perhaps playing ‘mind games’ by suggesting that MvG’s insistence on leaving 170 could become his downfall.
“He’s doing the 170 a lot and I think he’s doing it on purpose. I think he’s on three this week now, but it will stop. He’s going to keep leaving 170 but it’s going to stop and he’s going to come a cropper for it, so let’s see. It’s like when you keep playing for a penalty in football; He’ll come a cropper,” said the 16-time world champion.
The rivalry between the pair is absolutely fascinating. There is clearly a great amount of mutual respect, yet this is coupled with a sense of underlying friction. Taylor is undoubtedly the greatest of all time, yet Michael is currently playing the best darts ever seen. ‘The Power’ acknowledged the stratospheric heights that MvG continues to reach.
Phil said:”Michael van Gerwen is a fantastic player; he’s inspiring, he really is. He’s a person you want to practice for, and he’s what I’m practising for. I’m going up to my lodge on Saturday and I’m going to do four or five days (practice) and whoever I’m playing next week- I’m playing Michael van Gerwen, and I’m not going to miss doubles!”
This was quite a revealing admission. Taylor has been the scurge of countless darts players over the years, but it’s evident that van Gerwen has become engrained in ‘The Power’s’ mind-set and in recent meetings, ‘The Green Machine’ has unquestionably held the psychological edge.
Taylor and Van Gerwen are leading the way in this year’s competition, with both men locked on 11 points, but van Gerwen tops the table by virtue of a solitary leg. Michael has finished first in the league phase for three years in succession, but the Stoke-on-Trent star is aiming to dethrone the world number one this time around.
“I’m going to get ready now and I’m loving it; I’m absolutely loving it.The pressure is locking now. I’ve got the measure of him and I’m after him. It’s exciting for me. I want to go home tomorrow, get on that plane, get on the practice board, do my exercises, do everything right and I want to get him.”
“He’s good and I quite like him for what he is. He’s a confident player and he’s been taking advantage of people’s downfalls, so you can’t give him an advantage anymore,” Taylor added.
Van Gerwen was understandably rather downbeat after relinquishing control of the contest, although he wasn’t perturbed by Taylor’s fightback. “I gave the point away; I was the better player today I think and it’s a shame I did that. It’s not good enough; I can do loads better than this and I wasn’t myself tonight. I didn’t feel comfortable.”
“Phil hasn’t beaten me for the last seven or eight times. I’ve got a huge advantage over him and he knows that; he’s always nervous when he plays me. I just gave away a point today and I’m really upset about that. The only thing I can do is go back to the practice board and make sure that I beat him next time,” Van Gerwen said.
This certainly adds extra spice for when they next face off in the Premier League. Taylor showed tremendous spirit and composure to claw back a significant deficit, particularly after being forced to contend with a hostile Scottish crowd. He may not have had the belief to accomplish this comeback 12 months ago.
Nevertheless, it’s rather bullish to claim that he has the measure of Van Gerwen, especially when considering that Van Gerwen is unbeaten in 10 of their last 11 matches. Furthermore, ‘The Power’ hasn’t beaten Michael on television since the 2014 World Matchplay final and that’s an obstacle Taylor still needs to overcome.