Leeds and Sheffield United meet this weekend on a clash that could go a long way in deciding which of the two sides are in Premier League action next season.
It’s a Yorkshire derby with the added weight of expectation, something neither side have had in a long while. It’s been 15 years since Leeds last graced the top flight, whilst the Blades have enjoyed one season in the last 24 amongst the game’s elite.
Along with Norwich City they’re involved in a three-horse race to the finish, harbouring ambitions few thought possible a year ago. Leeds were in free-fall pre-Bielsa, whilst Chris Wilder had only just brought Sheffield United out of the third tier.
Now, two of the most talented and organised squads in the Championship go head to head. At the back for both sides is a towering rock. Leeds have Swedish defender Pontus Jansson, respected at Elland Road for his commitment to the club.
The Blades signed John Egan from Brentford in the summer and have benefitted as he’s thrived as part of their three-man defence.
Which is better though? There’s only one way to find out: a FLW Duel.
Thanks to the spectre of injury that has dogged Leeds all season, Egan has more appearances than his opposite number. Jansson has managed 30 outings for the Whites, whilst Egan has missed just one for Wilder, making in the league.
Both players have a goal in them, but Jansson has three to his name whilst Egan only has one. Both players have an assist too, adding a little more value to their all-round game.
On to their defensive stats and Egan makes more clearances than Jansson, 6.1 per game compared to 4.8. That could be due to the Blades being under more pressure, or indeed reflective of Leeds possession based, high pressing game.
That difference in styles is also evident in the number of passes averaged per game, with Jansson coming out on top. He makes 58.6 per outing, whereas Egan lags some way behind on 41.
Jansson is also a little more accurate, 85.6% of his find an opponent whereas Egan is behind on 79.6%.
The stats maybe point to Jansson being the better defender, but the approach of both sides dictates which stats they’re stronger in. The truth is both players are amongst the very best in the division and both would look comfortable on the biggest stage of all: the Premier League.