Peter Wright will aim to ignite his Cazoo Premier League campaign by halting Michael van Gerwen’s nine-match winning run on Night Seven in Nottingham on Thursday.
Van Gerwen made Premier League history in Liverpool last week, becoming the first player to win three successive nights since the Premier League's nightly knockout format was introduced last year.
The Dutch ace followed up wins in Dublin and Exeter by claiming the spoils on Merseyside, beating Wright in the semi-finals en route to establishing an eight-point lead at the Premier League summit.
Wright celebrated his first two points in this year’s roadshow with victory over Gerwyn Price at the M&S Bank Arena last week, surviving a late rally from the Welshman to triumph in a last-leg shoot-out.
The 2017 runner-up is still six points adrift of the top four places ahead of Thursday’s action at the Motorpoint Arena, although he hopes last week’s exploits can provide the catalyst for a winning run.
“I’ve got the monkey off my back, so let’s start winning now,” declared Wright, who celebrated his 53rd birthday on Friday.
“I’m an old man now. I’m getting nearer 60! There is a lot more to come from me though.
“In a lot of Premier League games this year, I’ve hit a bad score in a leg and let my opponent in, or I’ve missed three darts at a double which has cost me the game.
“I would have been really gutted if I had lost to Gerwyn last week. I was gutted anyway with the way I performed. I shouldn’t be missing six darts for the match, but I got over the line.”
Van Gerwen extended his record-breaking Premier League winning streak with a 6-4 success against Michael Smith in last week’s showpiece, and the pair could renew their rivalry in the Night Seven semi-finals.
World Champion Smith will play Chris Dobey for the first time in this year’s competition, with debutant Dobey eyeing a first win since his Night One glory in Belfast.
The Bedlington thrower comes into Nottingham on the back of five straight quarter-final defeats, despite posting ton-plus averages in three of those matches.
Only Van Gerwen boasts a higher tournament average than Dobey, and the Masters champion is confident that he will soon start reaping the rewards for his performances.
“I’m playing another good friend in Michael, and I’m really looking forward to that,” said the 32-year-old, who is still relishing the Premier League experience.
“I’m happy with my game. I keep saying to myself that results will turn in my favour soon, and it’s only Night Seven, so I’ve got plenty of time.
“I don’t enjoy getting beaten, but I’m not going to let this get me down because I’m playing well and I feel there’s a turning point on the horizon.
“I’m in with the elite and I’m happy to be here, so as long as I’m playing some decent stuff, I’m happy.”
Thursday’s quarter-final action will begin with a clash between Dimitri Van den Bergh and Nathan Aspinall, who has lost his two previous Premier League ties in Nottingham.
Aspinall occupies third spot heading into Night Seven, and the 2020 runner-up has enjoyed a strong start on his return to the Premier League fold, winning five of his six quarter-final tussles thus far.
However, Van den Bergh averaged over 105 to dispatch Aspinall on Night Three, and the Belgian knows that victory in Nottingham will see him close the gap on the Stockport star to just two points.
Elsewhere, World Cup of Darts partners Jonny Clayton and Gerwyn Price will collide in an all-Welsh affair, for the right to play Van den Bergh or Aspinall in the semi-finals.
The pair suffered quarter-final defeats to Van Gerwen and Wright respectively in Liverpool last week, and both will be eyeing an instant response as they prepare to lock horns for the first time this season.
Clayton topped last year’s league phase after claiming four nightly victories, although Price currently leads his compatriot by a solitary point, as he targets Play-Off qualification for the first time in five appearances.
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.
2023 Cazoo Premier League
Night Seven - Thursday March 16
Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham
Dimitri Van den Bergh v Nathan Aspinall
Jonny Clayton v Gerwyn Price
Peter Wright v Michael van Gerwen
Chris Dobey v Michael Smith
Van den Bergh/Aspinall v Clayton/Price
Wright/Van Gerwen v Dobey/Smith
All matches the best of 11 legs