The key battle that could decide Leeds-Wigan, featuring Jason Pearce

DW Stadium - Wigan Athletic

Leeds striker Billy Sharp will come up against a familiar face at Wigan's DW Stadium.

Leeds United will come across a familiar face later today as they travel to the DW Stadium to face Wigan Athletic at 3pm.

Indeed, Jason Pearce, a defender and captain at Elland Road until leaving Leeds for Wigan this January, will be tasked with stopping his former side.

Fresh off a 2-1 win against Ipswich Town, Neil Redfearn's men will hope to build further momentum against the Latics - and Pearce may be key to their fortunes one way or another.

  Tackles (per game)InterceptionsClearancesHeaders WonMinutes Played
Sol Bamba 2.38 4.75 8.63 2.88 720
Giuseppe Bellusci 1.83 3.08 7.33 1.54 2,046
Liam Cooper 1.43 2.48 7.22 3 1,843
Jason Pearce 0.69 1.58 7.96 3.42 2,252

Indeed, a key duel that could decide the outcome of the Leeds - Wigan encounter sees Pearce match up with former team-mate Billy Sharp.

Sharp, with back-to-back goals, is a man in form - goalscoring wise at least. And, as Opta stats show, Pearce may struggle to contain the 29-year-old unless he is at his very best.

Statistically, Pearce comes off worse than any of Leeds' other centre-backs both in terms of his tackles and interceptions, although he fares well in the clearances department - and is very good in the air.

  Goals (per game)Chances CreatedOn Target Shooting AccuracyHeaders WonMinutes Played
Billy Sharp 0.23 0.55 34% 0.36 1,064

What's interesting is that Sharp wins far fewer in the air than the Wigan defender. But Leeds are likely to play with the ball at feet and their forward hits the target with 34 per cent of his shots on average, scoring more goals per game than any Leeds player bar three (Mirco Antenucci, Souleymane Doukara and Alex Mowatt) - although the Yorkshire side have been low scorers this term.

As old team-mates collide, though, it should be a fascinating battle whatever the outcome...

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