Yorkshire derbies are never tame affairs and, as Sheffield United and Barnsley prepare to face off on Saturday with Play-Off ambitions in mind, this one looks no different.The Blades head into the Sky Bet League 1 encounter higher in the table, sitting fifth on 61 points, and with a comfortable-looking five-point gap to seventh.
Their South Yorkshire rivals, however, are unbeaten in nine games – seven of which have been under new manager Lee Johnson. They've collected 56 points so far this campaign, and know another three could propel them into the Play-Off places if other results go their way on Good Friday.
The Tykes have already taken three points from Sheffield United this season - Sam Winnall’s 56th-minute header was enough to separate the teams back at the beginning of November.
For United, they have to go back to 2008 for the last time they picked up a win at Oakwell. James Beattie scored a brace that day to ensure the spoils in a 2-1 win.
When it comes to league history, Sheffield United are the more dominant side with 24 wins from 59 meetings. Barnsley have 15 victories with 20 draws making up the rest.
In fact, since the Millennium, there have been seven draws from 14 games. All the stats point to weekend's clash being a tight game, with neither side winning by more than a one-goal margin since 1999.
Story of their season
Since establishing themselves in the Play-Off pack back in October, Sheffield United have barely looked back as they try and cement a third top-six finish in four seasons.
Whilst the close nature of League 1 has seen teams jostling for position, the Blades haven’t moved from their position in fifth place since February – 14 games ago. In that time they’ve seen seven teams occupy the final Play-Off place, below them in sixth.
One of those seven teams was Barnsley. Few expected them to be in the Play-Off frame having spent almost the entire season in the bottom half of the table before Lee Johnson's arrival in February.
Since he replaced Danny Wilson, the Tykes haven’t lost in seven games, winning four and keeping four clean sheets to put them within a point of sixth-placed Chesterfield.
Conor Hourihane has led the way when it comes to goals in his first season at the club, notching 12 league goals from midfield.
“We are desperate to get back into the Championship this season” - Nigel Clough
Sheffield United boss Nigel Clough has appealed for calm as the Blades head into Saturday’s clash following last weekend’s home defeat to Crewe.
"We have to remember we are still in the top six, we have goal difference in our favour and there are only seven games to go, three of which are at Bramall Lane,” Clough told the club's official website.
"Frustrations are understandable and the recent defeats are treated with such disappointment, both inside and outside the club, but our fate is still very much in our own hands and that is important.
"Sometimes we need a reality check on things, we can't let the frustrations override our actual position, this club has been in League 1 for too long now and we are desperate to get back into the Championship this season.”