Barnsley vs Huddersfield Town preview: Vital Yorkshire derby in the battle for Championship survival
 (Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Barnsley found victory last time out in the FA Cup, breezing past League Two side Crewe Alexandra to set up a fourth-round tie against Portsmouth.

However, with the Tykes facing an arduous task in the league, the distraction of a cup run may become an unwanted reward for Gerhard Struber and his Barnsley side.

Huddersfield Town suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Southampton last weekend, a result which Danny Cowley may view as a blessing in disguise when viewing the Championship fixture list.

Embed from Getty Images

The Terriers currently sit just five points above the relegation zone, and despite a brief upward tick in results since the Cowley’s appointment back in September, Town have struggled to gather enough momentum to distance themselves from a relegation dogfight.

  • Current Form

Barnsley’s FA Cup victory marked a return to winning ways for South Yorkshire outfit as they lost 2-1 in their last league outing against Derby County.

Previously however, the Tykes had managed a run of five games unbeaten, including impressive victories against Queens Park Rangers and Millwall.

Struber has lifted his Barnsley side of the bottom of the league on goal difference, with Luton Town the only side below them in the table.

Struber, who was appointed as Barnsley manager in late November, has enjoyed the winter months, with Barnsley finding their best spell of form all season over the December period; the Tykes sit 14th in the form standings over the last ten games.

Embed from Getty Images

In the same period, Huddersfield have picked up the same amount of points as Barnsley, with the exact same record of three wins, three draws, and four losses.

In their last league outing the Terriers were stunned by a fluent Stoke City side. The Potters travelled to Kirklees Stadium and stole all three points in a 5-2 victory in another pivotal game in the bottom half of the table.

The game marked a familiar feeling for Town fans, as inconsistent performances continue to be the bane of the Cowley’s tenure in West Yorkshire.

In their last five league matches they have failed to beat fellow relegation candidates Wigan Athletic, Stoke City, or Middlesbrough, yet have found victory against promotion hopefuls Nottingham Forest and mid-table Blackburn Rovers.

  • What to Expect

Statistically, the sides look evenly matched heading into Saturday’s fixture.

Possession wise, both sides average above 50% yet their pass success figures signal a difference in style of play. Barnsley represent the third least accurate passers in the division at 69%, whereas Huddersfield's 76% is around the leagues average.

This, coupled with the long passes per game stats, highlights how the game may play out at the weekend. With Huddersfield averaging just sixty long balls per game, the third least in the division, the away side may hope to control the game with Barnsley opting for a more direct approach.

However, Oakwell has been somewhat more productive for the home side than when on their travels this season. Twenty-two of Barnsley’s thirty-three goals have come at Oakwell, with only table-topping Leeds United keeping a clean sheet when travelling to the Tykes.

Yet this weekend they are faced with a Huddersfield side who have scored in all but one of their matches away from home, meaning a close encounter is likely on Saturday.

One statistic worth noting is this fixture features two of the worst disciplined sides in the division, so their may be cards aplenty with the added fire of a Yorkshire rivalry.

  • Key Men

With eight goals and four assists this season, Conor Chaplin is expected to lead the line at the weekend as he continues his fine form at Championship level. Chaplin has been forced to step up in the absence of top scorer Cauley Woodrow who has been missing for the last two outings.

Supply for Chaplin will come from the midfielder area. Alex Mowatt has seven assists this campaign, the joint third most in the league and offers a threat from set pieces.

Huddersfield Town will look to top scorer Karlan Grant who has found the net twelve times this season. The striker has failed to score in his last four and will be hoping to end his baron spell in front of goal against their fellow strugglers at the weekend.   

For Town, no one has played more minutes this season than German defender Christopher Schindler. The centre-back is a key component in the Terriers defence and will be the difference between Huddersfield remaining solid or succumbing to Barnsley’s attacking threat.