VAN GERWEN RELISHING ROTTERDAM RETURN
Michael van Gerwen is relishing his return to home soil on Night 12 of the Cazoo Premier League, as he prepares to headline Thursday's action in Rotterdam.
Reigning champion Van Gerwen will be the star attraction in front of a sell-out crowd at Rotterdam Ahoy, and he is determined to deliver for the 11,000 expectant Dutch fans in attendance.
The three-time World Champion currently boasts a two-point lead at the top of the Premier League, as he continues his bid to finish top of the league phase for a record-breaking ninth time.
The Dutch superstar is without a nightly win since his Night Six success in Liverpool, although he hopes that home comforts can spark his return to the winner's circle.
"It's always nice to play in front of your home crowd. It creates extra pressure, but also extra joy," claimed the six-time Premier League champion, who plays Nathan Aspinall in the quarter-finals.
"I've had some good patches and some good games this year. I've been quite steady. You just need to keep sharp, because the Premier League is not a sprint, it's a marathon.
"It would be absolutely fantastic to win here, but you need to make sure you keep both feet on the ground, because it's going to be tough.
"I feel good, I feel comfortable and I think it's going to be an amazing night."
In-form Gerwyn Price could overhaul Van Gerwen by claiming a fifth nightly win of the season on Thursday, as he prepares to take on Michael Smith in a repeat of last Thursday's Brighton decider.
Price was in sensational form on the South Coast, following up averages of 115 and 108 with a resounding 6-3 victory against World Champion Smith in the evening's showpiece.
Smith also enjoyed a return to winning ways in Brighton, overcoming Jonny Clayton and Peter Wright to move up to third spot, although Price is brimming with confidence ahead of their latest showdown.
"I'm in the best position and the best form I've probably ever been in during the Premier League, so things are looking good," insisted the Welshman.
"I need to keep playing well and make sure I get in the Play-Offs for the first time, but I'm also chasing Michael [van Gerwen] for top spot.
"There's five weeks to go and I'm fully focused. I'm really looking forward to Rotterdam.
"I'll be wearing a special orange shirt which hopefully will go down well with the Dutch fans!"
Elsewhere, Dimitri Van den Bergh is aiming to ignite his Play-Off push when he faces Wright in Thursday's penultimate quarter-final tie.
Wright reached Birmingham's Night Ten final a fortnight ago, before launching a superb comeback from 4-0 down to stun Nathan Aspinall in a dramatic quarter-final last week.
Van den Bergh made a bright start to this year's roadshow, but he heads to Rotterdam on a run of four successive defeats, which leaves him eight points adrift of the top four places.
However, Van den Bergh won the pair's previous Premier League meeting on Night Three in Glasgow, and the Belgian is hoping for a repeat performance in Rotterdam.
"I played here when I was a contender [in 2019] and what an experience that was," said Van den Bergh, who shared the spoils with James Wade on that occasion.
"There was literally a sea of orange, I had a lot of support and I had a great time up there, so the plan is to continue that great time and get a couple of wins under my belt.
"You're playing against the best of the best. It is called the Premier League for a reason. You are being selected to be part of the elite and you want to show why you are.
"At the minute something is not there, but I will keep digging in, and I will not give up because it can all change in a couple of weeks' time."
In the evening's opener, Chris Dobey will take on 2021 champion Clayton, who slipped to fourth in the table following his quarter-final exit in Brighton last week.
Clayton catapulted himself back into top four contention with back-to-back nightly wins in Berlin and Birmingham on Nights Nine and Ten respectively, as he targets Play-Off qualification for a third consecutive year.
Dobey, meanwhile, is without a victory since Night Eight, despite averaging 106 and 103 in defeats to Van Gerwen and Price over the last fortnight.
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.
Twelfth Night's Quarterfinals:
Chris Dobey v Jonny Clayton
Michael Smith v Gerwyn Price
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Peter Wright
Michael van Gerwen v Nathan Aspinall