By Phil Lanning
MICHAEL van Gerwen vowed “I’m back where I belong” after roaring back to the top of the Premier League.
The dazzling Dutchman dumped old foe Gary Anderson 8-5 to go back to the summit with just two league matches left to go in Milton Keynes.
It has been a theme of the tournament that MVG has been spectacularly inconsistent – by his high standards – yet still leads the table.
He said: “I’m back where I belong. I had to work really hard for that. I have to do the right things for me constantly. Gary Anderson and all the players try to fire everything at me.
“I didn’t play the best game of my life but I did the right shots at the most important moments. That made me win this game. I’m glad I won because it put me top.
“I want to end top of the table and I want to win this tournament and it’s even better with the crowd.
“I always put a lot of pressure on myself. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m very critical of myself. I’m always honest with myself. That’s who I am but that’s also the person who brought me over here. I’m always trying to aim for a goal.”
A win for Nathan Aspinall would have seen him book his place in Friday’s finale, but after going 7-5 up he was pegged back by Wade to share the points, and lose top spot to MVG.
He said: “It wasn’t to be tonight. I’m gutted but I think a draw was probably a fair result.
“It would mean everything for me to get over the line and reach the Play-Offs. After the 12 months I’ve had it would prove to a lot of people that I’m not a flash in the pan.
“I want to keep proving people wrong, and it’s up to me now to go out and finish the job.”
Peter Wright kept his slim Play-Off hopes alive with an 8-5 victory over Dimitri Van den Bergh.
Wright, who began the week knowing he needed to win all of his remaining league matches to stand a chance of reaching the Play-Offs, made it back-to-back victories against Van den Bergh as he averaged 102.82.
The Scot hit eight of his 14 checkout attempts, including two ton-plus finishes, to inflict a fourth defeat in five matches upon Van den Bergh, whose Play-Off dream remains in the balance with two matches to play.
He said: “I’m still on a high with having the crowds back. I didn’t play as well as I wanted to but I did enough to get the win.
“When I know I need to win legs I find a way to do it, even against the best players in the world. I’ve kept myself alive in the competition for another night at least.
“Every game feels like a knockout game for me now because I know I can’t afford anymore slip-ups. I will keep fighting.”
Jose de Sousa won his second match on the bounce, dumping Jonny Clayton 8-5 to strengthen his place in the top four.
Images by Taylor Lanning.