Premier League 2024 - Preview Eleventh Night

Luke Littler will aim to extend his lead at the top of the BetMGM Premier League table on Thursday, as he targets a third consecutive nightly victory in Birmingham.

Night 11 of the 1m pound tournament will see quarter-finals, semi-finals and a final played over the best of 11 legs at the Utilita Arena, as the battle for Play-Off qualification intensifies in the West Midlands. Littler leads the way following back-to-back wins in Belfast and Manchester, which saw him leapfrog his fellow debutant Luke Humphries to occupy top spot. The teenage sensation is now bidding to become the third player in this year's roadshow to claim three successive nightly wins, along with Humphries and reigning champion Michael van Gerwen.

"I'm just going to keep plugging away," declared Littler, who is refusing to look too far ahead. "Every week I'm playing against players I have looked up to, and I just thrive off it. "I'm in a good position, but until I see a little 'q' next to my name which means I've qualified, I've still got work to do. "It would mean a lot to make it three in a row in Birmingham, but it's all about picking up those points over the next few weeks and making the top four."

Littler will take on Rob Cross in the Birmingham quarter-finals, with 2018 World Champion Cross aiming to halt a run of four consecutive defeats stretching back to Night Six.
"The Premier League can be brutal at times," conceded Cross, a runner-up in 2019. "I feel like I've let myself down over the last few weeks. I haven't played well enough by my standards, but one week can change everything, so I'm going to fight for everything now. "I played some good darts on the ProTour this week and I found my game again, so I expect an improved showing. "Luke is fantastic for the game. He's won the last two weeks so it will be tough, but if I'm resilient I will buy myself a few chances, and if I take them, I believe I'll win."

Another fascinating tie in Birmingham will see Nathan Aspinall and Van Gerwen go head-to-head in a clash that could have major repercussions in the race for Play-Off qualification.
Aspinall moved into third spot at the expense of Van Gerwen in Manchester last week, after the Dutchman suffered his fifth quarter-final exit in six weeks at the AO Arena. Meanwhile, Stockport star Aspinall produced a ton-topping average to sink Cross on home soil, before succumbing to eventual champion Littler in the semi-finals.

"It was an unbelievable night in Manchester," reflected Aspinall, who received an incredible reception from the 11,000 strong crowd. "My kids were there, my family were there, and they got to witness that electric atmosphere. It's something I've never heard before, it was special. It was emotional."
Following a stuttering start to his campaign, Aspinall has featured in four of the last seven nightly finals, and he's in confident mood ahead of his clash against Van Gerwen.
"For me Michael is and always will be the best player in the world," continued Aspinall, who claimed Night Five glory in Exeter. "When I first started, he was my Phil Taylor. Michael knows how much I respect him and look up to him, so it's always special to play him. "I believe I'm going to get the job done. The pressure is on him, because I'm on a great run of results despite not playing at my best. "The magic number is 24 [points]. I'm on 18, so I'm six points away with six weeks left. It's a pretty good position to be in."

Aspinall is currently three points above fifth-placed Michael Smith, who will renew his rivalry with Gerwyn Price at the Utilita Arena on Thursday.
Price produced a stunning nine-darter - his third perfect leg in the Premier League - on his way to defeating Smith in the semi-finals last week, which reignited his campaign.
However, Smith defeated the Welshman in Cardiff's Night One showpiece, and has featured in a further two finals in Brighton and Dublin to preserve his hopes of a top-four finish.

Elsewhere, in the evening's opener, world number one Humphries faces two-time World Champion Wright, who made his last appearance in a nightly final in Birmingham 12 months ago.
Wright remains cut adrift at the bottom of the table on four points, although he produced his best performance of the season in Manchester, averaging 109.52 in a losing cause against Price.
Humphries has also suffered back-to-back league defeats since his hat-trick of wins in Brighton, Nottingham and Dublin, but he still boasts a four-point buffer over Aspinall in third. The World Champion has also impressed away from the Premier League stage, celebrating European Tour success at the German Darts Grand Prix earlier this month, before reaching Tuesday's Players Championship 8 final.

Eleventh Night's Quarterfinals:
Peter Wright v Luke Humphries
Rob Cross v Luke Littler
Gerwyn Price v Michael Smith
Michael van Gerwen v Nathan Aspinall

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