Michael van Gerwen says Luke Littler ‘has to chase me still’ after ending losing run in Premier League Darts

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Michael van Gerwen defeated Luke Littler in Birmingham on Thursday night

Michael van Gerwen insisted Luke Littler still “has to chase me” after he reignited his Premier League Darts campaign with victory over the 17-year-old to win Week 11 in Birmingham.

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After claiming three consecutive night wins from week two to week four at the start of the new season, Van Gerwen won only one match across the next six weeks – a run which included three defeats to Littler.

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But the seven-time Premier League Darts champion hit back on Thursday in a 6-3 final triumph to deny Littler a record-equalling third night win in succession.

Darts in 2024: Key dates and winners from Premier League and more

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Littler still leads the table on 26 points, two clear of Luke Humphries and four ahead of Van Gerwen, before next week’s event on ‘The Green Machine’s’ home soil in Rotterdam.

Asked how it felt to be chasing Littler at the top of the table, Van Gerwen replied: “I don’t have to chase anyone. He has to chase me still.

“I’m about 150 tournaments in front of him, so good luck to him.”

Van Gerwen was also asked after the match what he made of Littler’s inclusion in Forbes’ Under 30 Europe Class of 2024 list after the teenager’s headline-grabbing start to life on the professional PDC darts circuit.

“What he did and what he created for the sport of darts I think is phenomenal, but take it easy,” said three-time world champion.

“With all the respect, he played c**p tonight and I beat him with a c**p game that’s the reality of the moment.

“I’m happy with that, we need to move on to the next one.”

Van Gerwen also played down his recent losing run to the teenager having been defeated in the quarter-finals on Night Seven in Nottingham (6-2), the semi-finals on Night Nine in Belfast (6-3), and then again in the quarters at last week’s Night 10 in Manchester (6-3).

“That’s going to happen in this Premier League,” said van Gerwen. “We are going to play each other so often, you are going to lose two times, then you’re going to win two times, that’s the way it is.

“But the last few times he played me he played poorly, and I could I think have won a few more games against him.

“But when you don’t you can only blame yourself and then you need to make sure you do perform at the right moment, and I think I did tonight. Even if I didn’t play my ‘B’ game, probably played by ‘C’ or ‘D’ game, I still did ok.

Luke Littler hits a 180 with a flourish against Rob Cross in their Premier League Darts clash in Birmingham.

MVG: I didn’t lose confidence in my game

Having threatened to dominate the 2024 Premier League Darts campaign in which he chases a record-extending eighth title with his early hat-trick of nightly wins, Van Gerwen’s subsequent slump caused alarm among observers.

Van Gerwen said it’s ‘nice to win when you grind a result out’ after claiming victory over Littler

The Dutchman says while he did not lose faith in his game, he also needed to prove that was ultimately the case on the oche.

“I never doubt myself but you still have to show it,” he said.

“I’m probably have more confidence than anyone in this building but on the other hand you have to show it, so you can say whatever you want but you have to show it on stage.”

He added: “Losing is always disappointing for me so to bounce back with a win is always nice. You have to keep battling. You don’t get anything for granted so you have to work for it all the time.”

The Dutchman also pinned this fantastic 152 checkout against Nathan Aspinall earlier in the night

Van Gerwen said he was now looking forward to playing in front of his home crowd next Thursday night, live on Sky Sports, where he can become the first player to win five nights in the same Premier League Darts season.

“Home soil’s nice with the crowd behind you but it also puts extra pressure on your shoulders,” he added.

“I only play a few times a year in front of my own home crowd so that also brings some extra pressure but that’s the way how you’ve got to deal with that situation. I need to make sure I keep my focus. I’m going to have some exhibitions this weekend to make sure I feel good and then on to next week.”

“If I’m honest I didn’t think he [Van Gerwen] would win, but who would foresee Littler playing that badly.

“It’s been a great hard graft, a real workout, but it’s his fourth nightly win.

“He’s not been on it but he’s played well at the exact right moments. He’s managed to get over the line.”

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