Nathan Aspinall believes that Gary Anderson’s advice can aid his bid for Cazoo Premier League Play-Off qualification in Aberdeen on Thursday.
Aspinall faces a straight shoot-out for qualification against 2021 champion Jonny Clayton at P&J Live, as the 2023 league season concludes in front of a bumper Scottish crowd.
The pair will collide in a pivotal quarter-final clash on Thursday, and Aspinall knows he must beat Clayton and then progress to the Night 16 final to confirm a place at next week's Play-Offs at The O2.
The 31-year-old finished third in the table in each of his previous two Premier League appearances, and he arrives in Aberdeen in confident mood, as he bids to maintain his impressive record in the sport’s biggest roadshow.
“It has felt pretty pressurised for the last three or four weeks to be honest,” conceded Aspinall, who trails fourth-placed Clayton by two points ahead of their blockbuster showdown.
“When Jonny won back-to-back weeks, it put the pressure on me and Michael [Smith].
“Then I won the night in Rotterdam [Night 12] which put me back up there and then Michael's obviously gone absolutely mental in the last three weeks!
“Since Rotterdam, the pressure has been on every single week. There's a little bit more this time, but I handle these situations quite well and hopefully I handle it very well on Thursday.”
Aspinall has spoken openly about the struggles with his throw over recent weeks, surrendering a 4-0 lead against Peter Wright on Night 11 – a defeat he described as one of the toughest of his career.
However, the Stockport star responded by celebrating Night 12 success seven days later, defeating Michael van Gerwen, Dimitri Van den Bergh and Gerwyn Price to triumph in Rotterdam.
He has been overhauled by a rampant Michael Smith and Clayton since then, although he enjoyed a welcome return to form at last weekend’s Czech Darts Open.
Aspinall averaged 103 and 105 in Prague before succumbing to Dave Chisnall in the last eight, having also averaged 104 in his defeat to an imperious Price on Night 15 in Sheffield last Thursday.
“I've known for the past two weeks that something's coming, performance-wise,” insisted Aspinall, who hailed the influence of two-time World Champion Anderson ahead of his return to Scottish soil.
“Obviously I've had a bit of a nightmare for the last two months with my throw and I feel like I've found something.
“I had a chat with Gary Anderson in Belgium and he's helped me - he doesn't help many people but he's helped me!
“I played really well at the weekend, probably one of the best tournaments I've played this year and I'm confident. I'm happy where my game's at, and I'm not going to give it to Jonny.
“I'm going to leave everything on that stage on Thursday night, and if I play like I can and like I played at the weekend, I'll take some stopping.”
The 2023 season marks Aspinall’s third campaign as a Premier League player, although it's the first that hasn’t been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Aspinall – a World Grand Prix and Grand Slam runner-up in 2022 – reached the final on debut in 2020, before losing out to Jose de Sousa in the semi-finals 12 months later.
However, this is his first taste of the Premier League in its purest form, and the former UK Open champion has revelled in the atmosphere throughout the last four months.
“I've loved playing in front of the big crowds,” added Aspinall, who will take on Price or Wright in the Night 16 semi-finals, if he overcomes Clayton.
“I've had a great reception everywhere I've been, probably apart from Cardiff in the final [against Price]. I’ve really enjoyed it.
“We've got Madison Square Garden coming up in a couple of weeks and you have to pinch yourself at these amazing venues that I'm playing in.
“If I can walk out at The O2 on Night 17, I'll be a very happy guy!”
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 16 - Thursday May 18
P&J Live, Aberdeen
Gerwyn Price v Peter Wright
Jonny Clayton v Nathan Aspinall
Michael Smith v Dimitri Van den Bergh
Michael van Gerwen v Chris Dobey
Price/Wright v Clayton/Aspinall
Smith/Van den Bergh v Van Gerwen/Dobey
All matches best of 11 legs