To describe Saturday’s game at the DW Stadium as our most important in the last 12 months might be stretching things a bit far.
With only six league games gone and so many points to play for, it simply can’t be measured as such.
But every so often, maybe three or four times a season, a fixture gathers so much momentum in the minds of us fans that it assumes the tag of ‘must win’ or at worst, ‘daren’t lose.’
Our game at Wigan feels like one of those occasions, where it will either end up being a cathartic experience for the good, or a miserable memory to shape a season.
There just seems to be a collective angst simmering beneath WV1 that could do with shifting before it turns to anger.
Some of the pressure goes with the territory of a poor run of form. It just feels that a larger part is the fact that this is one of those ‘must win games.’
Maybe it’s because some fans have played down our last three losses to a pair of Europa League sides and a Champions League outfit, that the expectation cranks up for this more ‘winnable’ one.
Add our 2009 victory at Wigan to the mix and the game assumes even more importance. A loss would be far more symbolic than the other ones put together.
Sprinkle in Albion’s fine run of form, starring players they bought in the summer and choose to play, and the recipe is potentially quite disastrous, should we lose.
Let’s hope not.
Whenever one of these games come up – where we worry beforehand that little bit more – Mick and his men deliver.
Just last season, we rose to the occasion in style at Upton Park, when defeat seemed unthinkable at the time, and the game assumed gargantuan proportions.
Our wins against Spurs were also massive in the context of our league position, not to mention horrid defeat to Blues so soon before.
Going back further, a few fixtures in the promotion winning season felt just like this one.
Most notably, the brilliant back to back wins at Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday when every ounce of my being dreaded the games after our sudden loss of form.
And who could forget Derby County away, when at 2-1 down, we could all be forgiven for a 2002 flashback.
For good measure, how about Leicester City at the Walkers Stadium? 1-0 down in a game we had to win to make the play-offs in 1997, against a side I’d never seen us beat in their home town ever.
Whenever a ‘must win’ arises (in our minds or otherwise), Mick finds the winning formula from somewhere, and makes you feel slightly dirty and unfaithful for every questioning him in the first place.
This is why I’m backing the boys to win on Saturday, by hook or by crook.
Thomas: Ben handled the preview as I’ve been away for a few days, so thought I’d tag the Prediction League update on the end.
Nobody correctly guessed a 2-1 to Villa last weekend, but Dazza in Brisbane, Ben, Yoda, Ezz and Hallam all correctly predicted we’d lose so well done to them for picking up a point each.
You’ll all be glad to know that I remain on top of the overall table.
As always, if you want to join in with the Prediction League, simply leave your prediction for each game in the comment section of the official preview (such as this one).
This weekend, I’m going for a 3-1 Wolves win. Call it blind faith if you will.
If you’re heading up to the DW, have a great time and roar the lads on.
Up The Wolves.