Van Gerwen aims for second victory in a row in front of home crowd


Van Gerwen aims for second victory in a row in front of home crowd

Michael van Gerwen at the oche last week in Birmingham
Michael van Gerwen at the oche last week in BirminghamProfimedia
The 12th matchday of Premier League darts will be played in Rotterdam on Thursday night. In the main hall of Ahoy, Michael van Gerwen returns on home soil and it will be especially exciting for the fourth spot between Michael Smith and Nathan Aspinall. Last year, the latter was the winner in Rotterdam.

Michel Smith v Luke Littler

Smith also gets to start the evening right away and does so against Luke Littler. The 17-year-old is still leading the Premier League and extended his lead by a point in Birmingham last week. He now has 26 points and Luke Humphries has 24.

Indeed, he beat Humphries 6-5 in the semi-final last week. As a result, Littler made it to the final for the third week in a row. The previous times he managed to step off the oche as the winner, but this time Van Gerwen was too strong for the Englishman.

Littler will not care, because with five more nights to go we can say that his spot in the final night at the O2 in London is certain. Last weekend, the third Eurotour was also completed in Riesa, Germany. Littler did not participate here.

For his opponent Smith, everything is still at stake. As it seems now, the tension is still mainly on spot 4, the spot occupied by Aspinall. Normally the two are good friends, but that doesn't count for now. Aspinall has 18 points and Smith 17, so Bullyboy must make sure he does not fall behind. 

Smith is still a bit shaky in the Premier League, but he only lost the first game once in the last four nights and therefore often takes two points.

A day victory now would be nice to get some air and Littler seems a good opponent for Smith. Indeed, Smith won the last two times. The Englishman did appear in action in Riesa last weekend, but lost in the first round to Ritchie Edhouse.

Littler congratulates Van Gerwen in Birmingham
Littler congratulates Van Gerwen in BirminghamProfimedia

Rob Cross v Gerwyn Price

Rob Cross only seems to be competing only for the well-known bacon and beans. And that is because of his recent form and accompanying performances. Cross lost all of his last five Premier League matches, throwing above 100 average just once in them and that is just not good enough this year in this competition.

With that, Cross has been on 11 points for five weeks and seems to have forfeited his chances of any dessert in the O2. Cross was also in action in Riesa last weekend and also had to lose out to Edhouse. That happened in the third round.

His opponent, Gerwyn Price, also seems to have no chance of finishing in the top four. But Price has been on a good rise in recent weeks with great play. In the Premier League, he admittedly lost in the first round again last week, after he did make the final a week before.

But in Riesa last weekend, Price was 'on fire'. He made it to the final, but lost there to home player Martin Schindler 8-5. There was one great match in which Price threw a 115.74 average. A bizarrely high average.

But Price seems unable to follow up his play, mainly on the Eurotours, in the Premier League. He plays uninterested at times in the competition and seems to have already thrown in the towel. Price is seventh with 10 points.

Peter Wright v Nathan Aspinall

Peter Wright is in another down period. After starting the Premier League with seven defeats, Wright seemed to leave that negative form behind with two semi-finals and two quarter-finals on the floor and some wins here and there in the Premier League. But in recent weeks, it has been what it has been for a year, just dregs.

From March 19th, Wright won two matches and lost nine and the last six were all losses. The third round of the Eurotour 2, the second round of the Eurotour 3, the first round Players Championships 7 and 8 and the first round of the Premier League nights 10 and 11 - all were lost. Wright still has an embarrassing two points and a negative leg balance of 27 in the Premier League.

Aspinall is still playing for an important spot in the top four. Virtually he goes into the final night with 18 points, but he will no doubt feel the hot breath of Smith.

And Aspinall knows what it is to fall outside that top 4 on the final day, as was the case last year. Where he started poorly and recovered very well, there now seems to be something of a consistent line in Aspinall's results. 

Last week, he lost in the first round to Van Gerwen, but the week before that he won one match and the week before that he made it to the final. In any case, Aspinall will be happy to have climbed out of the doldrums and should now focus on keeping that fourth place.

Rotterdam at least has good memories, as he won there last year. Aspinall was still in action at the Eurotour last weekend, where he beat Danny Noppert in the las 16.

Michael van Gerwen v Luke Humphries

Van Gerwen returns in front of his own crowd in Ahoy on Thursday night. The audience will think he owes them. After all, last year he dropped out in the first round against the eventual winner, Aspinall. But back then, the world looked different to Van Gerwen.

He was already long and certain of a place in the last four and is not yet. He could just about play himself safe with a day's win in Rotterdam, though. And he owes that to a great performance in Birmingham, where he took his fourth day victory.

And he needed to, because in the previous six weeks he won only once. Because of his good performance last week, Van Gerwen now has 22 points and is third, five points ahead of number five, Smith.

Opponent Luke Humphries also all but secured his place on the final night weeks ago. And the latest results show that to some extent, as after three daily wins only one match out of four was won.

However, Humphries did still make it to the final on floor at the Players Championship 8. Humphries was also in action at Eurotour last weekend, but was stranded there in the third round. Stephen Bunting was too strong 6-4. Humphries is second in the Premier League with 24 points.

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