Michael van Gerwen was in playful mood following an emphatic 7-2 victory over his old foe Peter Wright on Night Two of the Premier League, which sent the Dutchman top of the table via legs difference.
The five-time champion registered his first win of this year’s competition having shared the spoils with Dimitri Van den Bergh on the opening night, although he was nowhere near his irrepressible best against Snakebite; punishing an abject display from the Scot, despite averaging a modest 92.16 himself.
In the absence of world No 1 Gerwyn Price, Van Gerwen  and Wright  are the highest ranked players in this year’s field, therefore it was a highly-anticipated clash, particularly given their verbal exchanges in the media over recent weeks.
Wright picked up his first ranking title of 2021 at Players Championship 8 last month, and in his post-match interview, controversially claimed that Van Gerwen wouldn’t win a major title throughout the year.
“He won’t win a TV tournament this year. He shouldn’t be on holiday now, he should be here practising. He’s a fantastic player and obviously he knows what to do, but he won’t; there are too many good players around,” declared Wright.
The pair traded breaks of throw in a lacklustre opening salvo, but with the scores locked at two apiece, Van Gerwen stole a march, reeling off five consecutive legs to close out a comprehensive success. Wright was only able to muster an 88 average, and his 29% success rate on the outer ring came less than 24 hours after he boasted a perfect record on the doubles during his 6-6 draw with Jonny Clayton.
I’m happy with the two points but with my performance I’m not too happy,” Van Gerwen told Sky Sports. “To win over Peter Wright with a 92 average, I can’t really complain, it’s always nice to beat him.
“My scoring power was on and off; some legs I was playing well, some legs I was playing poorly. But in the Premier League only the two points count and that’s the most important thing. I’m OK, I’m not over the moon because I’ve not played really well but at least I doubled up on my point from yesterday.”
However, pointing in turn to his pockets, the three-time world champion told Sky Sports’ Michael Bridge: “Listen, two points here; Peter Wright there.”
The Dutchman’s delight was evident and he could be forgiven for harbouring a sense of vindication, as the majority of the verbal exchanges had been instigated by Wright. However, speaking in his post-match press conference, Van Gerwen urged the 2020 world champion to focus his efforts on his own performances.
“We all know Peter, we all know what he’s doing and he’s always the same. He says things maybe he shouldn’t say because he’s better off concentrating on his own game,” the 31-year-old added.
“I don’t really care what Peter Wright says. He needs to make sure whatever he says, he’s also gonna do it. I can have a big mouth now but with a 92 average, you need to shut your mouth and get back to the practice board.”
Elsewhere on Night Two, Jonny Clayton continued his imperious start to the Premier League with a convincing 7-3 win over reigning champion Glen Durrant. The Welshman raced into a 5-0 lead and appeared on course to inflict a whitewash defeat on ‘Duzza’, who is the only player yet to open his account after two fixtures.
Clayton’s fellow debutant Dimitri Van den Bergh takes on Durrant on Night Three, and the Belgian is level with ‘The Ferret’ on three points, after recovering from 5-3 adrift to topple last year’s finalist Nathan Aspinall in a thriller. Van den Bergh displayed fragility on the outer ring but scored magnificently, averaging 103.7, firing in seven 180’s and sealing the deal with a clinical 87 kill on the bullseye.
Two-time Premier League winner Gary Anderson kicked off Tuesday’s proceedings with an entertaining 7-5 triumph against Grand Slam champion Jose De Sousa. ‘The Flying Scotsman’ converted finishes of 112, 145 and 90 en route to establishing a 4-1 advantage, but De Sousa fought back valiantly to level, only to spurn three darts at double to salvage a point in a dramatic decider.
Meanwhile, Rob Cross is tied on three points with Van Gerwen, Clayton, Van den Bergh and Anderson, following a resounding 7-3 success against 2009 champion James Wade. ‘Voltage’ was eliminated from last year’s competition on Judgement Night, but having recovered from 6-4 down against De Sousa to pinch a point on Night One, he eased past a malfunctioning Machine with a solid 94.34 average.
Image Credit: Sky Sports