Michael van Gerwen has shown signs that he is returning to his best, in an ultra-competitive Premier League field. Don’t miss an arrow as Premier League Darts continues on Thursday from 7pm on Sky Sports Action.
By Brian Barry
Last Updated: 22/04/21 6:48pm
“They’re quite lucky. If I really turned up, I would be top of the table.” That was the warning from Michael van Gerwen after he showed signs of his top form in an impressive win over Jose de Sousa on Wednesday night.
The three-time world champ has – by his own impossibly high standards – been struggling for the best part of a year.
Nonetheless, he finds himself second in the Premier League table at the halfway point through the group phases.
On Wednesday evening the Green Machine clicked into gear, out-classing ‘The Special One’ with an average of 104.72, hitting seven 180s along the way.
The familiar swagger was back, coupled with roars of celebration. Although he fell over the line in the end, somewhat faltering in the final two legs, it was nonetheless a statement performance.
“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.”
However, his lapse in the latter stages of the match provided a timely reminder that he still has some distance to travel to return to his top form.
“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.”
Very happy with the way I played this evening. The first 10 legs I felt phenomenal on stage this evening. Credit to @JoseDeSousa180 who pushed me into playing well.
Now it’s important to back this performance up again tomorrow night. Thank you for all the support 💚💚 pic.twitter.com/w2mv8mu48g
— Michael Van Gerwen (@MvG180) April 21, 2021
Honeymoon period over for Clayton?
MvG will face Jonny Clayton on Thursday night. The Ferret enjoyed a stunning start to life in the Premier League, hitting a nine-darter and going top of the table after the first block of five nights.
However, the soaring Welshman has been brought back down to earth this week with defeats to Dimitri Van den Bergh and James Wade, either side of a draw with Nathan Aspinall. In the space of three days, he has gone from first to eighth in the table.
The Premier League’s unforgiving schedule ensures there is no let-up.
Despite his stunning start, Clayton now is in need of a result to keep in touch with the top four.
Wade on an upward trajectory
The commentary surrounding Wade’s late inclusion in this year’s competition was that if the Machine was able to avoid elimination, he could be a threat in the latter stages.
The recently-crowned UK Open champion achieved his first objective. Going into Wednesday night, he was not safe from elimination. But his 7-2 victory propelled him into the top four.
The tightly-packed nature of the field is one in which the experienced Englishman could thrive. Few are as adept as Wade at grinding out results. Having reached the play-offs six times in his 10 Premier League campaigns to date, the Machine knows what it takes.
On Thursday evening, he faces the form man in the Premier League, Van den Bergh.
The ‘Dream-Maker’ will be hoping that experience counts for little, however.
Last year’s final was contested by two debutants, and the Belgian star could well emulate those achievements of Glen Durrant and Aspinall. He is currently top of the table, and well placed to do just that.
Anderson, De Sousa and Wright looking to keep pace
With the threat of elimination now behind them, this trio find themselves outside the top four. The Scottish pair in particular have been around the block enough times to know that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
But after Judgement Night, focus gets firmly switched onto the top four race.
The last thing they want is to get cut adrift, and have little to play for as the competition turns for home next month.
Premier League Darts: Thursday’s fixtures
|Glen Durrant vs Rob Cross|
|Jonny Clayton vs Michael van Gerwen|
|Nathan Aspinall vs Gary Anderson|
|Jose de Sousa vs Peter Wright|
|Dimitri Van den Bergh vs James Wade|
Nothing but pride on offer in basement clash
Rob Cross and Durrant are both eliminated, heading into their final match of the campaign on Thursday night.
Durrant has endured a torrid season, failing to pick up a win. As the tournament has progressed, his body language has deteriorated. Indeed, after hitting a 121 checkout to win his sole leg on Wednesday night in the 1-7 defeat to Peter Wright, he looked utterly bemused.
He is sitting out the upcoming Players Championship events in Germany, as he looks to find form.
I’m defending lots of money this year but I’ve still made the decision not to go to Germany
It could cost me Grand Prix / Players Champs but genuinely feel it’s the right decision
I just want my wife / daughter right now and darts doesn’t seem to matter ….. FOR NOW
— Glen Durrant (@Duzza180) April 20, 2021
A win against Voltage would count for little on paper, but it could do his confidence the world of good.
Don’t miss an arrow as Premier League Darts continues on Thursday from 7pm on Sky Sports Action.