Michael van Gerwen produced a blistering display to return to winning ways in the Premier League on Night Eight, before firing a jovial warning to his title rivals.
The three-time world champion halted a run of three games without a win with a sublime 7-4 success over Jose De Sousa, who was targeting a fourth consecutive victory.
Van Gerwen underlined his intent with a majestic 125 checkout on the bullseye in the opening leg, and the solitary break of throw in leg six was sufficient to seal a precious two points for the Dutchman, who averaged 104.72 and fired in seven 180’s in an irrepressible display.
De Sousa also produced a sparkling display featuring seven 180’s, but ‘The Special One’ was unable to the deficit as he suffered his first defeat since Night Three, when he was beaten by nine-dart hero Jonny Clayton.
However, it was a significant victory for Van Gerwen, who had been slightly lethargic against Glen Durrant and Gary Anderson since the Premier League’s resumption, despite registering three points in those two contests.
“I am playing well,” he told Sky Sports after his victory. “[My] scoring power was quite good. He threw everything at me.
“You need to find your own pace, your own confidence, and then the rest will come automatically. But I really miss the people and the venue.
“I’m really glad I won this game. It was a tough one, but I’m really glad for myself. They’re quite lucky. If I really turned up, I would be top of the table,” he quipped.
However, there is an element of truth to Van Gerwen’s sentiments. The world No 2 is one point adrift of league-leader Dimitri Van den Bergh, yet prior to Night Eight, only the beleagured Durrant had a lower tournament average than ‘The Green Machine’.
The five-time Premier League winner produced a sensational display to thrash Rob Cross on Night Three, but he’s also underwhelmed in equal measure, posting averages of 91, 90 and 87 during the opening six nights.
“I got there in the end, but it was a typical game where I was thinking too much about winning the game,” he admitted. “I think in the first 10 legs, I was feeling really good. You could see it in my scoring and my confidence and everything. But then in the end, I was thinking ‘Come on, I need two points’.
“Then you realise, ‘Hey, Mike, you’re not there where you want to be yet’. It takes time, but I’m gradually getting there.”
Van Gerwen takes on Jonny Clayton on Night Nine, with the Welshman bidding to return to winning ways following a three-game winless run. ‘The Ferret’ topped the table following the opening five nights, but he’s slipped down to eighth, which further illustrates the unpredictable nature of this year’s event.
Despite this, Clayton is the solitary player to boast a tournament average in excess of 100, and he was resoundingly beaten 7-2 by an imperious James Wade on Night Eight. ‘The Machine’ averaged 105.29 – his third consecutive ton-plus average – to ensure his survival and leapfrog ‘The Ferret’ in the process.
Van den Bergh remains at the summit following a scrappy 7-5 success against Gary Anderson. The repeat of last year’s World Matchplay final was dominated by missed doubles, with the pair spurning 46 opportunities on the outer ring. The Belgian missed D18 for a nine-darter in leg four, before capitalising on a host of late errors from the Scot to claim his fifth win of the campaign.
Peter Wright sealed his survival with a comprehensive 7-1 win over reigning champion Glen Durrant, who was condemned to his eighth successive defeat. ‘Duzza’ converted a stunning 121 finish on the bull in leg four to open his account, but that was his only cause for celebration, as he slumped to another crushing defeat.
Wright’s victory confirmed that Rob Cross will be eliminated on Judgement Night for the second straight Premier League season. ‘Voltage’ was beaten 7-5 by high-flying Nathan Aspinall in the evening’s opener, and although the 2019 finalist fought back valiantly from 6-2 down to force a decider, ‘The Asp’ kept his cool to prevail.
Image: Lawrence Lustig/PDC
Unibet Premier League
Night Eight – Wednesday April 21
Rob Cross 5-7 Nathan Aspinall
Gary Anderson 5-7 Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael van Gerwen 7-4 Jose de Sousa
James Wade 7-2 Jonny Clayton
Peter Wright 7-1 Glen Durrant
Night Nine – Thursday April 22
Glen Durrant v Rob Cross
Jonny Clayton v Michael van Gerwen
Nathan Aspinall v Gary Anderson
Jose de Sousa v Peter Wright
Dimitri Van den Bergh v James Wade
Best of 12 legs