Mick is hoping for some Christmas cheer. (©PAphotos)
by Rory Hall
, read by 150 people.
Whilst the rest of the country enjoys the festive period with numerous office parties and general overindulgence, the Premier League must gear up, once again, for another weekend of footballing action. The last before it officially breaks for its own Christmas holiday.
High-noon on Sunday will see another Birmingham derby taking place. Having overcome one local rival last weekend, Mick McCarthy finds himself and his team in a great position heading into this derby day; one of, possibly, even greater importance to his side.
West Brom have looked excellent this season under manager Roberto Di Matteo but there have been a few clear signs of defensive frailty - most notably their 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Chelsea on the first day of the season.
They will also be smarting from their loss to Aston Villa last weekend. They may have been the away side but their hosts were in a poor vein of form going into the game; Di Matteo will view it as three points lost and will be focused on getting his side back to winning ways as soon as possible. Nothing better than the visit of another local rival to get back on track, surely?
McCarthy, as mentioned earlier, is in the opposite position.
Seeing his side take all three points from an off-colour Birmingham side will have instilled some belief in the camp that relegation can still be avoided and is, in fact, far from a foregone conclusion. Three points gave them some breathing space at the bottom of the league as West Ham failed, once again, to get any points against Manchester City.
Three points also put them right back in touch with those sided loitering just above the drop-zone; Fulham's dull stalemate with Sunderland meaning they stay out of the bottom three on goal difference alone and Stephen Hunt's goal for Wolves has dragged McLeish's side down to 17th; again only avoiding the dreaded relegation zone due to Wigan's poor defensive record.
Mick will have a better idea of just how valuable three points will be come Sunday morning. Fulham will have visited Anfield in the evening kick off, Birmingham will have seen the Toon Army come and go, The DW will have played host to Villa and The Hammers will be on their way back to London from Ewood Park.
IF, and that's a big IF, all results go in Wolves' favour AND McCarthy's side can find a way of beating West Brom in their own back yard then things will be looking rosier over the Christmas break at Molineux; 17th on level points with Birmingham and Everton looks like a good platform on which to attack 2011 and secure safety.
When you're in the position Wolves are in, with only 15 points to your name and within touching distance of rock bottom, each game is of vital importance. Going into the New Year there are some real stand out games that could decide Wolves' fate.
Wigan at Molineux on Boxing Day and away at West Ham on New Year's Day await; but first it's The Hawthorns and another 'season-defining' three points up for grabs.
If Wolves can take nine points from their rivals, it makes the visit to Anfield and the visit of Chelsea less consequential to McCarthy's season - the worst position Wolves could find themselves in is really needing to take points from those games.
Only time will tell, but you feel there is reason for Christmas cheer around Molineux at the moment - and long may it continue.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.