Premier League 2023 - Preview Fourth League Day

he Cazoo Premier League roadshow rolls into Dublin on Thursday, as World Champion Michael Smith bids to maintain top spot by claiming back-to-back wins following his Night Three success.

Smith celebrated victory in Glasgow last week, averaging over 109 to overcome Dimitri Van den Bergh in a thrilling final, which moved him above Nathan Aspinall in the table. The St Helens star will now take on two-time World Champion Peter Wright in Thursday's opening quarter-final, as the world's top two collide in the Irish capital. Wright is yet to open his account in this year's Premier League, and Smith is hoping to extend the Scot's winless run in front of 8,000 fans at the 3Arena.

"Dublin is one of my favourite venues in the Premier League," revealed Smith, who landed his first televised nine-darter on the Emerald Isle during the 2020 Premier League. "Now I've got that win on the board, I'm not chasing wins. I can relax now and hopefully you can see my best darts come out over the next 13 weeks. "I'd love to get back to The O2 without a doubt, but for now, it's about each night, winning the first round matches, trying to make the finals and winning them. "I'm just thinking about each week right now, but I feel on top of the world at the minute. Winning is the best feeling!"

Wright, meanwhile, has endured a chastening start to this year's campaign, after suffering consecutive quarter-final defeats to Chris Dobey, Aspinall and Van den Bergh respectively. The world number two was edged out by the Belgian on his Glasgow homecoming last Thursday, but insists he isn't concerned by his sluggish start.

"I was expecting to go to Glasgow and win, but I missed six darts at double at a crucial time and that cost me," conceded Wright, a Premier League runner-up in 2017. "There was extra pressure on me because I'm the only Scotsman in the field. We normally have Gary who is the ambassador for Scottish darts, and it's hard to replace Gary. "I was gutted. The fans gave me a lovely welcome and I felt like I let them down, but I'm not worried about my form. "I know I'm good enough to win the Premier League and I'm happy with the way I'm playing, so that's all that counts."

The evening's second quarter-final will see Van den Bergh and Night Two winner Gerwyn Price collide for the first time in this year's roadshow, with both men locked on five points heading into Dublin. Reigning champion Michael van Gerwen and Smith are the only players to have beaten Van den Bergh in the opening three weeks, and the Belgian admits he is revelling in his Premier League return.

"I am in a good head space. I'm feeling confident, I'm loving my darts and I am just enjoying this amazing experience," said Van den Bergh, who finished fifth in the 2021 season. "You've got 16 nights of playing against the best of the best. It doesn't get any better than that. I'm eager to learn, but I'm not feeling any pressure at all. "I really want to win one of the nights. It's got to happen at some point, and as long as I keep enjoying myself, I don't see why it's not possible. "I'm really looking forward to playing Gezzy tomorrow. We always have belting games and I don't think it's going to be any different in Dublin."

Elsewhere, 2021 Premier League champion Clayton takes on Aspinall - the only player to have won a match on all three nights so far. Clayton clinched his first points of the 2023 season with victory over Dobey on Night Three, while 2020 runner-up Aspinall denied Van Gerwen at the OVO Hydro to continue his strong start. The quarter-final action draws to a close with a clash between Masters champion Dobey and six-time Premier League winner Van Gerwen, in a repeat of Belfast's Night One final.

Fourth Night's Quarterfinals:
Peter Wright v Michael Smith
Gerwyn Price v Dimitri van den Bergh
Jonny Clayton v Nathan Aspinall
Chris Dobey v Michael van Gerwen

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