Massive game today, really!

BIGGEST game of the season? You'll tell me it's Wigan at home or West Ham at New Year, maybe even a nice cup draw, but few people would point to Crewe away.

BIGGEST game of the season? You'll tell me it's Wigan at home or West Ham at New Year, maybe even a nice cup draw, but few people would point to Crewe away.

Yet it's possible to argue that this is a pivotal moment, not least because it may decide whether we are fly-by-night leaders of the division or true contenders.

Cast your mind back a year, yes I'm afraid we must. The signings of Alan Mahon, Shefki Kuqi and Chris Bart-Williams inspired Town to overcome a poor start and rocket up the table, but just before Christmas we hit the buffers. A 0-0 at Millwall was followed by a derby defeat, a fortunate but welcome victory at West Ham and then a home loss to Palace, and let's face it, we were playing catch-up after that.

One of the reasons we didn't recover (as far as the automatic places go) was that we were already behind anyway, having been bottom at one point while the rest were streaking away. But it was a bad time to go off the boil, after nine wins in a row in the autumn had put us among the pacesetters.

This time around, it's a whole lot better. We head towards the Christmas fixtures in a position of some strength, in fact the strongest place we could be in, but the reason today's trip up the M6 is so important is not the fixture itself, but the ones which follow.

There's every chance we could get a small return from a trip to QPR and a home match with Wigan. I'm not being pessimistic in that prediction, but we have to face facts, even if our home record is superb.

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So turning over a team which scores a lot of goals, but also gets beaten quite a bit, would be the best way to prepare ourselves for two very difficult games. Actually, given that Millwall, Stoke and West Ham follow Wigan, it's hard to find another game like today which, on paper, qualifies as “could win” instead of “might win” or “would be nice to win”.

So that's why Crewe away could be the most important afternoon of the season. Win and we stay top whatever happens, and who knows, another one of the chasing pack may slip up. Lose, and we get drawn back into the mess below ahead of some very difficult games.

Not that this afternoon will be easy. Like travellers lost in the desert crave water, we were gasping for clean sheets after last season, and now they come along quite regularly. I wouldn't be surprised to let in a goal this afternoon though.

We may be the bane of Division One defences, but Crewe are only three goals behind in the scoring charts. My suggestion would be to buy Dean Ashton off them this morning, send him to Alton Towers for the afternoon then loan him back to Crewe for the rest of the season.

Perhaps we were too quick to dismiss last season's 6-4 scoreline at Portman Road as a freakish one-off. The only difference this season is that Town have tightened up considerably, so perhaps we'll still score six, but only let in two.

I'll settle for that. I doubt we'd stick six past QPR, although Leeds did the other day of course. Whatever happened to them? Ah yes, they got embarrassed at Rotherham.

A lot of Leeds fans claim that our home match against them was Town's 'cup final' this season, and it did draw the biggest attendance of the season so far.

But that's rubbish. Everyone knows our biggest game is today, at Gresty Road.

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