One of the key battles this evening as Leeds head to their Yorkshire rivals, will fall in the defence of each time with Rotherham’s Kari Arnason and Leeds’ Jason Pearce likely to be vital for their teams.
It’s not a direct battle, but whichever defender has the better game gives his side a better chance of a clean sheet and three points as a result.
The stats this season suggest that Arnason is doing the basics of defending more effectively; he’s making a higher number of tackles and is also making more effective clearances during games.
That shows he’s not afraid to get stuck in and doesn’t panic when the opposition pile the pressure on top of him.
Where Pearce has the edge is in terms of the intelligence of his defensive play.
He reads the game better than Arnason, which allows him to get into better positions to make blocks but also to step in and make interceptions, which cuts out danger before it develops.
Arnason is more effective in terms of aerial duels won this season but he’s also giving away more fouls, which means Leeds are unlikely to be deterred from hitting Rotherham over the top if their passing game doesn’t work this evening.
Conclusion: Arnason does the basics more effectively but Pearce is a more sophisticated centre-back. It will be interesting to see who comes out on top this evening but if tempers get out of hand, Arnason could give his side the edge.