More often than not, this column hasn’t looked at the positive side of Ben Pearson’s game.
Plenty of time has been spent poring over his disciplinary record, 18 games having been missed through bans during his three years at the club, eight of those matches coming in this season alone.
But on Saturday at QPR, the former Manchester United man was back to his best and the stats backed that up.
The 24-year-old made 68 passes in the 4-1 victory at Loftus Road, completing 93.2 per cent of his passes.
For context, Sheffield United’s Oliver Norwood leads the Championship with an average of 72.7 passes per game, Pearson’s 68 up on his 50 across the season.
In terms of pass completion, the second tier leader is Nottingham Forest’s Jack Colback who averages 88.1 per cent, Pearson on 81.3 for the campaign as a whole.
He also regained the possession 19 times for PNE as they got back to winning ways in some style in West London.
There were a couple of potential flash points along the way but Pearson kept his head and simply pulled the strings from his deep-lying midfield role to the delight of the more than 1,200 travelling fans.
Post-match Alex Neil would hail him as the standout player in his position in the division while QPR boss Steve McClaren conceded that PNE’s No.4 was the star performer on the day.
It was a display that underlined why manager and fans alike get frustrated that it is the fourth-worst disciplinary record in the Championship that can define Pearson, rather than his ability to run games for North End.
According to whoscored.com he is third in the Championship when it comes to tackles per game – no surprises there.
But when it comes to fouls, Pearson doesn’t even figure in the top 10.
Perhaps that shouldn’t come as a shock either, his first red card of the season against Bolton came following a rush of blood to the head after the final whistle, with the second for one strong challenge that was deemed to be reckless at Sheffield Wednesday.
But less talk about the cards, let’s have more of the Pearson that starred at Loftus Road please.
With him in full flight in front of the back four, PNE simply seemed to click into gear in the capital, Ben Davies and Jordan Storey behind him and Alan Browne in front completing an exciting spine to Neil’s side.