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  • 'He Knows He Needs To Win' Luke Littler Enlivened On Eve Of Huge Premier League Darts Showdown

'He knows he needs to win' - Luke Littler enlivened on eve of huge Premier League Darts showdown

League leader Littler will face 2023 World Champion Michael Smith this Thursday night as he bids to extend his cushion at the Premier League Darts summit.

Littler moved two points clear of second-placed Humphries after edging out the world number one in a captivating Night 11 semi-final, before his eight-match winning run was halted by Van Gerwen.

Smith, meanwhile, closed to within a point of fourth-placed Nathan Aspinall with a quarter-final win over Gerwyn Price in Birmingham, closing out a 6-3 victory with a 104.45 average – his highest of the season.

The St Helens star has won three of his four meetings against Littler in this year’s Premier League, although the Warrington wonderkid is in relaxed mood ahead of his Rotterdam debut.

"The bigger the arena, the better I play, so I'm really looking forward to tomorrow night," insisted the 17-year-old, a nightly winner in Belfast and Manchester this season.

"The first five or six weeks were tough, but I think I've really settled into the tournament now.

"Coming into the Premier League, I thought if I made the O2 for Finals Night that would be a massive achievement, so to be top of the league after 11 nights is just a bonus.

"Michael [Smith] won't put too much pressure on himself but he knows he needs to win to keep up with the top four, and I just want to keep going."


Can Rob Cross end losing run?

Elsewhere, Rob Cross will aim to snap his six-match losing streak when he meets 2023 runner-up Price, with both men vying to preserve their Play-Off aspirations.

Cross has slipped to sixth in the table having failed to register victory since Night Six, while Price is a point adrift in seventh, despite boasting a 99.51 tournament average – a statistic only bettered by Humphries.

However, Cross has won the pair’s last two meetings by an aggregate scoreline of 13-4, which included a 6-1 demolition on Night Five, where he averaged in excess of 109.

The evening’s other quarter-final clash will see Aspinall play Peter Wright, with Van Gerwen or Humphries awaiting the winner in the semi-finals.

Aspinall celebrated a landmark victory in Rotterdam 12 months ago, and the World Matchplay champion will aim to repeat the feat on his return, having featured in four of the last eight nightly finals.

The Stockport star has also won both encounters against Wright in this year’s Premier League, with the Scot marooned at the foot of the table with four points to his name.

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