WRIGHT AND SULJOVIC BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL ON UNIBET PREMIER LEAGUE'S JUDGEMENT NIGHT
PETER WRIGHT and Mensur Suljovic will battle to remain in the Unibet Premier League on Judgement Night at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Thursday.
With Gerwyn Price having already been eliminated from the event ahead of Judgement Night, either Wright or Suljovic will join the Welshman in dropping out of the event, as the first phase of the season concludes.
Wright sits on five points following his opening eight matches, having picked up a potentially crucial draw with Simon Whitlock in Belfast last week after coming from 6-3 down to take a point.
The 2017 Premier League runner-up had been dragged into the elimination battle with three successive 7-1 losses, but after reaching two European Tour finals over the past fortnight is in confident mood as he takes on Daryl Gurney.
"Simon gave me some chances last week and I took them," said Wright. "It gave me confidence that I'm still fighting and I've had two good weekends on the European Tour.
"I'd been lacking that fighting spirit because nobody runs away with a game against me normally, but I've got that back and no-one's going to beat me easily any more, no matter how good they are.
"I've still got a hard game against Daryl, who's been playing some fantastic darts but I've got lots of confidence and I'll be doing everything to prepare myself for him. I'm still in the Premier League and still battling."
Suljovic, meanwhile, has picked up just four points so far this season, with defeats in his last three matches having seen the Austrian debutant drop to second bottom in the table.
The Champions League of Darts winner takes on world number one Michael van Gerwen in Liverpool, and said: "It's an important night for me because I love the Premier League and I don't want to be knocked out this week.
"I think that I've played well but my results haven't shown that. Having the opportunity to play in the Premier League has been fantastic and I don't want it to end.
"Playing against Michael is always hard but I know what I have to do and I'll be trying my best to win. He's a great player and I always enjoy playing Michael."
Van Gerwen has now won six successive games and sits two points clear of Michael Smith at the top of the table as he returns to the Echo Arena to take on Suljovic.
"Mensur is in a tough situation but his tournament average is quite good," said the Dutchman. "He has had a bit of bad luck but I can't worry about that - I have to try and beat him this week.
"Mensur is a good player and has a lot of respect but I still have to treat this like any other game."
Van Gerwen added: "I can't complain about my form - it's good but it's not phenomenal yet.
"My scoring power is not really there yet and I want to kick that in soon. I can do better than I have been, but I've been winning and that's been the most important thing."
St Helens star Smith is relishing his chance to appear in Liverpool on Thursday night, as he faces 2014 champion Raymond van Barneveld in his "home" event.
"Raymond's been in some good form recently and I'm looking forward to the game," said Smith, who has won six of his eight matches.
"I'm confident of winning and maybe I've been trying too hard to impress people and maybe I need to relax and enjoy it and then my best form might come out.
"I promised myself after the 2016 World Championship, when I was 3-0 up and lost 5-4, that I would never lose to him again on TV.
"I played him a couple of weeks later in The Masters and beat him there and then I beat him in the Premier League. This is the first time we've played each other since then on TV and I'm looking forward to it."
World Champion Rob Cross comes up against Gary Anderson, having never previously defeated the Scottish ace in five meetings since joining the PDC circuit in 2017.
The night's other game sees Australian star Simon Whitlock take on Price in the Welshman's final game before he exits the tournament.
If Mensur Suljovic loses against Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright is safe.
If Mensur Suljovic draws against Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright needs a draw or a win against Daryl Gurney to eliminate Suljovic.
If Mensur Suljovic wins against Michael van Gerwen, Peter Wright needs to win against Daryl Gurney to eliminate Suljovic.
Ninth Night's Matches:
Simon Whitlock v Gerwyn Price
Raymond van Barneveld v Michael Smith
Gary Anderson v Rob Cross
Mensur Suljovic v Michael van Gerwen
Daryl Gurney v Peter Wright