Michael van Gerwen would have picked one player to replace Gary Anderson in the Premier League

Michael van Gerwen is the defending Premier League Darts champion
Michael van Gerwen is the defending Premier League Darts champion

Michael Van Gerwen believes that just one player should have replaced Gary Anderson in the forthcoming Premier League but is ready to beat whoever he comes up against.

Anderson pulled out of the tournament earlier this week due to a back injury and the Professional Darts Corporation opted to give nine local-based players the chance to play one round each, with Chris Dobey getting a run out in Newcastle.

Van Gerwen, who is eyeing a fourth consecutive title, says the Premier League is a poorer place without the Scot.

"It is a huge miss with Gary Anderson not being here," the Dutchman told Press Association Sport. "No one can really replace Gary, because Gary is Gary and he is a phenomenal player.

"But it gives other young players a huge opportunity to get more experience. I would pick one player, but who am I to make a decision? I need to make sure I keep performing and whoever I play I have to beat."

Having already won the World Championship and the Masters this year, Van Gerwen will be expecting to beat most players he comes up against on the oche.

Anderson's absence robs the tournament of a strong rivalry against the 29-year-old, but there could be a new one brewing as Van Gerwen takes on Michael Smith in the opening week.

That is a quick reunion of the World Championship final at Alexandra Palace last month, where the world number one won at a canter.

Smith still said in the aftermath that he is better than the all-conquering Dutchman when he is playing at his best and Van Gerwen accepts he is a contender.

"With his talent and ability Michael Smith could be a good contender for me but you never know what is going to happen," said Van Gerwen, who also beat Smith in last year's Premier League final.

"It could be a rivalry that develops, but you can never see what is going to happen in the future. I just have to make sure I play as good as I can.

"I am in lovely form at the moment, but there is always room for improvement, I can't really complain, I am enjoying what I do and I just want to keep my performances going.

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"I am not back to my best yet, but there is always room for improvement, you always need to keep the bar further away because people are trying to get you, so you need to perform as well as possible."

Van Gerwen's countryman, Raymond Van Barneveld, is playing his final Premier League ahead of his retirement.

Van Gerwen added: "It will be nice to play him again, of all the players I have played against we have had some great battles and it is going to be his last year, it is going to be hard for him.

"It is his last year, I wish him all the best."

Premier League Darts 2019: Dates, fixtures, venues & results

Night 1, February 7
Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • James Wade v Raymond van Barneveld
  • Gerwyn Price v Daryl Gurney
  • Chris Dobey v Mensur Suljovic
  • Michael van Gerwen v Michael Smith
  • Peter Wright v Rob Cross

Tickets: 0844 493 6666 or click here

Night 2, February 14
SSE Hydro, Glasgow
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • Peter Wright v Michael Smith
  • Rob Cross v James Wade
  • Raymond van Barneveld v Gerwen Price
  • Daryl Gurney v Glen Durrant
  • Mensur Suljovic v Michael van Gerwen

Tickets: 0844 395 4000 or click here

Night 3, February 21
3Arena, Dublin
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • Gerwyn Price v James Wade
  • Steve Lennon v Peter Wright
  • Michael van Gerwen v Rob Cross
  • Michael Smith v Daryl Gurney
  • Mensur Suljovic v Raymond van Barneveld

Tickets: 0818 719 300 (Ire) or click here

Night 4, February 28
Westpoint Arena, Exeter
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • Luke Humphries v Gerwyn Price
  • Daryl Gurney v Rob Cross
  • Mensur Suljovic v Peter Wright
  • Michael van Gerwen v James Wade
  • Michael Smith v Raymond van Barneveld

Night 5, March 7
BHGE Arena, Aberdeen
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • Michael Smith v Rob Cross
  • Daryl Gurney v James Wade
  • Mensur Suljovic v Gerwyn Price
  • Raymond van Barneveld v Peter Wright
  • Michael van Gerwen v John Henderson

Tickets: 08444 77 9000 or click here

Night Six, Thursday March 14
Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • Nathan Aspinall v Michael Smith
  • James Wade v Mensur Suljovic
  • Rob Cross v Raymond van Barneveld
  • Gerwyn Price v Michael van Gerwen
  • Peter Wright v Daryl Gurney

Tickets: 0843 373 3000 or click here

Night Seven - Thursday March 21
Mercedes-Benz Arena, Berlin
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • Gerwyn Price v Rob Cross
  • James Wade v Peter Wright
  • Michael van Gerwen v Daryl Gurney
  • Michael Smith v Mensur Suljovic
  • Max Hopp v Raymond van Barneveld

Tickets: 030 20 60 70 88 99 (Ger) or click here

Night Eight - Wednesday March 27
Rotterdam Ahoy
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • Gerwyn Price v Michael Smith
  • James Wade v Dimitri van den Bergh
  • Rob Cross v Mensur Suljovic
  • Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen
  • Raymond van Barneveld v Daryl Gurney

Tickets: 0900 300 1250 (Ned) 0031 88 123 24 25 (Outside Ned) or click here

Judgement Night - Thursday March 28
Rotterdam Ahoy
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • Daryl Gurney v Mensur Suljovic
  • Peter Wright v Gerwyn Price
  • Rob Cross v Jeffrey de Zwaan
  • Raymond van Barneveld v Michael van Gerwen
  • James Wade v Michael Smith

Tickets: 0900 300 1250 (Ned) 0031 88 123 24 25 (Outside Ned) or click here

Fixtures for Nights Ten-16 will be confirmed following Judgement Night.

Night Ten - Thursday April 4
The SSE Arena, Belfast
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • Four Matches

Tickets: 028 9073 9074 or click here

Night 11 - Thursday April 11
M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • Four Matches

Tickets: 0344 8000 400 or click here

Night 12 - Thursday April 18
Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

  • Four Matches

Tickets: 029 2022 4488 or click here

Night 13 - Thursday April 25
Arena Birmingham
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • Four Matches

Tickets: 0844 338 0338 or click here

Night 14 - Thursday May 2
The Manchester Arena
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • Four Matches

Tickets: 0844 249 1000 or click here

Night 15 - Thursday May 9
The FlyDSA Arena, Sheffield
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • Four Matches

Tickets: 0114 256 5656 or click here

Night 16 - Thursday May 16
First Direct Arena, Leeds
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • Four Matches

Tickets: 0844 248 1585 or click here

Play-Offs - Thursday May 23
The O2, London
TV Channel: Sky Sports (1900 GMT)

  • Two semi-finals and a final

Tickets: 0844 856 0202 or click here

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