Premier League Darts: Nathan Aspinall hopes Michael Smith plays a ‘stinker’ when they meet in Sheffield on Thursday | Darts News

Nathan Aspinall has already started the mind-games, saying he hopes Michael Smith plays a “stinker” when they meet in a winner-takes-all Premier League clash in Sheffield on Thursday – live on Sky Sports.

Smith preserved his hopes of a top-four finish with a 6-3 success against Aspinall in Leeds last week, punishing a profligate display from the Stockport star to set up a fascinating finale.

The final league night of the season, held at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena, will see the two good friend go head-to-head in a straight shoot-out for qualification.

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Smith beat Aspinall in the quarter-final on Night 15 of the Premier League in Leeds

The winner will join Luke Littler, Luke Humphries and Michael van Gerwen at the season-ending Play-Offs, which will take place at London’s O2 on Thursday, May 23.

“Every Premier League campaign I’ve played in has come down to the last night and two out of the three times I’ve got the job done,” said Aspinall, who has two nightly wins in Exeter and Rotterdam. “I know what I’ve got to do and I’m confident that I’m going to come out with the result. It’s going to be a tough game against Mike because we’re close mates.

“I let him get away with it last week but that won’t happen again. I shouldn’t have been in this position but that’s darts for you.

“I’ve really enjoyed this Premier League campaign and to be in the position that I’m in now knowing that it’s in my own hands, I’m feeling proud of how I came back from the first three weeks when I was very poor. I should have had it wrapped up by now. I look at some of the results where certainly the two Luke Littler games stand out – the two 6-5 defeats – and again last week against Mike Smith.

“Last week we practised together and everyone knows we went away together a couple of weeks ago but this week I’m going to Sheffield serious, concentrate on my own game, and focus on the job in hand. If I do that, then I think I’ll come out the winner.”

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Littler helped Aspinall get the crowd going as he joined in with his iconic Mr Brightside walk-on song

Last year was a similar story for Aspinall who headed into the final regular Premier League night knowing he had to reach the final in Aberdeen, and although he hammered Jonny Clayton 6-0 in his opening match, the Stockport star fell to a 6-3 defeat against Gerwyn Price to end his hopes.

“These big pressure moments are what I live for. I love the pressure and adrenaline of a Thursday night and I think me being in the position that I have been in previously could put me in good stead ahead of Michael Smith,” admitted the World Matchplay champion.

“I hope it doesn’t come down to a last-leg decider. I don’t want that to happen and as much as I like Michael, I hope he has an absolute stinker. I hope he plays shocking and I hope I win 6-0 but seriously, it’s going to be a tough game.

“I’m hoping to finish this campaign off on a high and making my debut at the O2, which is a dream of mine.

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Speaking on Love The Darts, Aspinall admitted he relishes the big occasions but struggles at the ProTour events

Webster fears for Aspinall in shoot-out

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Mark Webster looks at who will clinch the final spot in the play-offs as Nathan Aspinall and Michael Smith do battle on Night 16 of the Premier League in Sheffield

Former Lakeside champion Mark Webster told Sky Sports: “It’s a bit cruel but you fear for Nathan a little bit because Michael Smith has put himself in a position. He’s won [against Aspinall] in Leeds so he’ll be feeling that’s the minimum requirement to keep himself in the equation and he’s done that.

“For Nathan, just because of what’s happened last year, he knows what’s on the line. We know how much of a battler he is, it’s a knock-out game and it’s what these players generally play.

“It’ll be a fantastic match. It’s the match of the night, isn’t it?”

How the Premier League Darts table looks after Night 15 in Leeds
How the Premier League Darts table looks after Night 15 in Leeds…

Aspinall: Littler has ‘shocked me’

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Littler came from behind to beat Nathan Aspinall in the semi-finals on Night 13 in Liverpool

Reflecting on the most talked about Premier League campaign in year, Aspinall feels the introduction of Luke Littler has proved why the PDC included him, following his run to the World Championship final where the teenager lost out to Luke Humphries.

“He’s won the league hands down,” said the 31-year-old, who was a Premier League runner-up in 2020. “He’s been fantastic the way he’s composed himself even when his back has been against it with the booing in Liverpool and Leeds, he’s handled it really well. He’s really, really shocked me if I’m deadly honest.

“He’s not felt any bit of pressure – all credit to Luke Littler.

“The revenue that he’s going to bring in is obscene. If you replace him with [Chris] Dobey the Premier League would not have had as much hype, so it’s fantastic for the PDC and the rest of the players are benefiting from Luke being in the Premier League.

“The media attention that I’ve had during this Premier League campaign has been ridiculous, bigger sponsors and companies are getting involved so it’s hats off to Luke and the PDC for the decision.”

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Littler was jeered by the Leeds crowd before his quarter-final match against Peter Wright

Where does the Premier League head next?

Michael Van Gerwen celebrates with the trophy after winning against Gerwyn Price in the final during the Cazoo Premier League Play-Offs. Photo credit should read: Steven Paston/PDC ..RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.
Michael van Gerwen is the seven-time Premier League champion

The Premier League continues with Night 16 at the Utilita Arena, Sheffield on Thursday, May 16, as Michael Smith and Nathan Aspinall collide in a winner-takes-all quarter-final showdown.

Reigning World Champion Luke Humphries goes head-to-head with Gerwyn Price, teenager Luke Littler will play Peter Wright for a place in the semi-finals, while Michael van Gerwen and Rob Cross are also in action.

Fixtures: Night 16 at Utilita Arena, Sheffield on Thursday, May 16

Luke Littler vs Peter Wright
Nathan Aspinall vs Michael Smith
Luke Humphries vs Gerwyn Price
Michael van Gerwen vs Rob Cross

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2024 Premier League Darts schedule

Night 16 Utilita Arena, Sheffield May 16
Play-Offs The O2, London May 23

Premier League Darts continues on Sky Sports on Thursday, May 16 with Utilita Arena, Sheffield the next stop on the 17-week extravaganza all the way through to the Play-Offs at the O2 Arena in London on Thursday, May 23. Stream the darts and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership. No contract, cancel anytime.

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