Sheffield United can legitimately be described as one of the greatest ever newly promoted sides in the Premier League.
Before football in England – and across Europe – was suspended until at least April 4, the Blades sat seventh in the table after 28 matches.
They also have a game in hand over most of the teams directly above them. If they win that, they could potentially move up to as high as fifth.
This alone could be grounds for claiming they are one of the best newly promoted sides since the competition was rebranded in 1992.
Chris Wilder has taken the Blades from the bottom of League One to the cusp of European qualification in less than four years.
However, the statistics also back up the claim.
The stat that suggests Sheffield United are one of the best newly promoted teams
After 28 fixtures – the cut off point for the Blades because of the coronavirus pandemic – no other newly promoted side had conceded as few as Wilder’s men.
So far in 2019/20, the South Yorkshire team have let in 25 goals. Only runaway leaders Liverpool have a better defensive record.
Yet when looking back in history, no other newly promoted teams can compete with this. The next best is 29 goals conceded.
After 28 matches, this was achieved by Birmingham City in 2009/10, Newcastle United in 1993/94 and Watford in 2015/16.
Following that trio is Middlesbrough in 2016/17, when they let in 30 goals at this stage. Fulham managed 31 conceded in 2001/02, while Reading allowed 33 past them in 2006/07.
It is this defensive resolve that the Blades have built their success on this season. Their goal scoring record only betters five other top flight clubs – all of whom are in the bottom half.
Yet with only the Reds being able to compete with them for goals conceded, they have established a foundation from which they could realistically qualify for Europe.