It's a mild irk and a small blot on an otherwise pristine copybook however it's hugely competitive at the top of League One this season and the Tykes can't afford too many more underwhelming performances against sides they are expected to beat.

It's been a tremendous start to the season for Daniel Stendel and Barnsley. The Tykes were amongst the pre-season favourites for an immediate return to the Championship and midway through October, they occupy fourth position and have a game in hand on the majority of their rivals. The German arrived with a reputation for playing a high-pressing, exciting, attacking brand of football but some sceptics expressed doubt about the effectiveness of this style at League One level. However, after 11 games in the dugout, Stendel can be satisfied that his favoured style works effectively in the third tier. It's been a near-perfect start for the South Yorkshire club but their ability to break down stubborn lower-ranked opponents still remains a concern amongst some supporters.



Source: Barnsley FC Stats via Twitter

There have been numerous high points already this season, including the club's eye-catching 4-0 success at promotion rivals Peterborough. It was their biggest ever away win at London Road and the Tykes looked dangerous every time they poured forward. They can also boast the best defensive record in the division, with just seven goals conceded and five clean sheets so far. Barnsley appear to have little trouble against the top teams in the division but they often drop points against sides that are languishing in the bottom half and this must be addressed if they wish to return to the Championship.

Their only defeat this season came at the Ricoh Arena as they suffered a 1-0 loss to a Coventry side who have won just 33% of their home matches so far this campaign. They also failed to break down AFC Wimbledon, a side hovering just one place above the drop zone, whilst points were also squandered against 23rd place Plymouth Argyle. Scunthorpe also proved stubborn opposition but the Iron were playing under new boss Stuart McCall for the first time and the new manager bounce can often skew results.

Stendel expressed his disappointment at his sides failure to beat the Pilgrims, telling reporters that his side "did not play how [they] wanted". His side soon bounced back however and the German boss was delighted with their response to this setback.

Barnsley were many people's pre-season tips to return to the Championship at the first time of asking and they are still available at 6/4 to finish top of the table in the outright football betting markets. Stendel's side certainly look an impressive unit and they should have enough squad depth to mix things up during the hectic festive fixture list.



Source: Adam Oxley via Twitter

Barnsley boast the tightest back-line in the third tier and they've managed to net 23 times so far. Things are looking rosy at Oakwell at the minute but Stendel is a manager who is still adapting to life in the third tier and there is likely to be the occasional hiccup along the way. c It's a mild irk and a small blot on an otherwise pristine copybook however it's hugely competitive at the top of League One this season and the Tykes can't afford too many more underwhelming performances against sides they are expected to beat.
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