Just as José Gomes predicted, other teams are getting sucked into the mix at the sharp end of the table.
Our win last weekend at Ipswich, coupled with the Latics’ loss at Derby in midweek, means that we will go ahead of Wigan this weekend if we can convert a victory.
And our boss is not playing down the importance. Quite conversely, he knows that this game is the most important so far in the context of the campaign.
“We need these three points to go on with our good movements,” said Gomes. “We are at home – but like I’m always saying, we can’t find any easy games. It’ll be a tough game – and the most important game of the season right now.
“Looking at schedule and the difficult, tough games that everyone had, I thought that this could happen. And hopefully we can make it count on Saturday.
“We just need to control what is in our hands – and what is in our hands is our game. If we do our job properly on Saturday, things could look better for us.
“After last Saturday at Ipswich, I tried to keep everyone’s feet on the ground. We got three points, and that’s very nice, but nothing more.
“We may have more confidence, but if you really want to get confidence then you must win the next one, and the next one. Everything can be better or worse, depending on what you do in the next step.
“We must keep our focus, prepare in the way that we can. The players, the staff, everybody – we all have to do the best that we can with the things that we can control.
“If everyone gives their maximum for the club, things will be okay and we’ll be on the right track.”
Wigan’s position belies their attacking talent. Big wins this season over Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City tell a different story to their league position; they are a side with capabilities of forcing the issue.
“Like always, we have watched their games and the way that they are taking care of their options – how they’re thinking about playing, and we’re trying to prepare for this,” continued Gomes.
“What I have been feeling is that teams are changing now for the last games of the season. Because they’re feeling more pressure or because of their position, or the troubles they think they’ll get in the game.
“They are changing their system, their players, changing formations – so you cannot feel completely secure that any team will play like they did in the previous game. But we watch all the games, so they can’t make surprises for us.
“We are counting on the best Wigan team arriving. They have good players who know how to play, how to move the ball, how to create danger to any team with their crosses. We have to be prepared for this.”