Birmingham Beckons Premier League Stars

Red Dragon Darts

Jonny Clayton is aiming to build on his brilliant Berlin victory as he targets back-to-back Cazoo Premier League nightly wins in Birmingham on Thursday.

Clayton returned to winning ways in emphatic style last week, defeating Michael van Gerwen, Gerwyn Price and Michael Smith to triumph on a memorable night at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.

Having begun Night Nine in seventh spot, Clayton’s victory in the German capital catapulted him up to fifth position, and he has now set his sights on securing Play-Off qualification for the third consecutive season.

“What a feeling. It’s nice to be back!” quipped 2021 champion Clayton, who also topped last year’s league phase.

“Things haven’t been going my way. When you know you can play great darts but it’s not happening, that feeling hurts.

“We all go through it and to bounce back last week was fantastic. If I want to make the final four, I’ve got to put everything into it and last week was a good start.

“I beat the best three players in the world at the moment, so hopefully this is the start of things to come.”

Clayton trails fourth-placed Nathan Aspinall by three points heading into Night Ten, and the pair will lock horns in a crunch quarter-final clash at the Utilita Arena.

Aspinall has won seven of his nine quarter-final tussles this year, although one of those two defeats came against Clayton on Night Four in Dublin.

Birmingham was also the scene of one of Clayton’s four nightly victories in 2022, with the Welshman averaging over 111 to claim the spoils at the Utilita Arena on that occasion.

Meanwhile, Clayton’s compatriot Price is aiming to further reduce Van Gerwen’s five-point lead at the summit by registering his third nightly victory in the space of four weeks.

Price has been in imperious form over recent weeks, claiming back-to-back European Tour titles in Leverkusen and Riesa, while also celebrating Premier League success in Nottingham and Newcastle.

The 2021 World Champion is bidding to qualify for the Play-Offs for the first time in five appearances, but he’s refusing to get carried away ahead of his meeting against Dimitri Van den Bergh, who sits in seventh spot.

“The game is all about confidence. I know that I’m playing really well,” reflected Price, who has won both of his meetings against Van den Bergh in this year’s competition.

“The form that I’m showing now is finally coming off the practice board and on to the main stage, and you can’t beat going into tournaments full of confidence.

“I just need to keep doing what I’m doing. My form right now is pretty good, but I still think I’ve got more in the tank.

“Dimitri is a good player, but I will concentrate on my own game. It doesn’t matter how well you are playing, you need to be clinical at the right times.

Elsewhere, Peter Wright insists he is yet to give up hope on Play-Off qualification, despite being 13 points adrift of the top four places.

Wright’s only cause for celebration in this year’s roadshow was a victory over Price on Night Six, which leaves him seven points behind his closest rival in the league table, Van den Bergh.

However, the colourful Scot is confident he can produce an improbable turnaround, starting with Thursday’s showdown against world number one Smith – a finalist in Berlin last week.

“My form on the practice board is there, but I’m not producing up on stage at the moment. I know it’s not far away,” declared Wright, a Premier League runner-up in 2017.

“It’s been a tough period. I thought if I have time off it will keep me fresh for the Premier League, but that’s backfired, so maybe I’ll have to go back to the ProTour events to keep me sharp.

“I’ve got another seven weeks to try and qualify for the Play-Offs. I know if it clicks I will do it. I still believe I can qualify.

“The Premier League has ruined many dart players’ careers but it’s not going to ruin mine, because I know how to win big titles, and I will turn it around.”

The evening’s opening last eight tie will see reigning champion Van Gerwen take on Masters champion Dobey for the right to play Aspinall or Clayton in the semi-finals.

This will be the pair’s first meeting since Dobey inflicted Van Gerwen’s maiden Premier League whitewash on a remarkable night in Nottingham three weeks ago.

Despite this, the Dutchman remains in pole position to top the league phase for a ninth time in 11 seasons, while Dobey slipped to sixth following his quarter-final defeat to Aspinall in Berlin.

The 2023 Cazoo Premier League will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK & Ireland, through the PDC’s worldwide broadcast partners including DAZN, Viaplay and VTM, and on PDCTV for Rest of the World Subscribers.

2023 Cazoo Premier League
Night Ten – Thursday April 6
Utilita Arena, Birmingham
Michael van Gerwen v Chris Dobey
Nathan Aspinall v Jonny Clayton
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright v Michael Smith

Van Gerwen/Dobey v Aspinall/Clayton
Van den Bergh/Price v Wright/Smith


All matches the best of 11 legs


Image: Jonas Hunold/PDC

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