Tally-ho then. All I ask of you is that you travel with a sense of proportion. Hope will get you nowhere. And fast. Just resign yourself to an(other) afternoon of abjectivity and thus the only way is up.
To label this as a "must win" would be stretching the boundaries of that particular phrase to it's most tenuous limit. Instead I would describe this as a "Yeah, you'll really wanna win this one but even if you do you're still probably screwed" match.
Hope that's all cleared up then.
2. The History
We have a fantastic record at Wigan. And when I use that phrase I mean it in it's truest sense - "highly unrealistic or improbable". In four games at Wigan in the last 3 years we have drawn one and won three, all by a 2-1 margin. The word you're looking for is "Howonearthdidthathappen?".
Naturally, all of this has meant that we have an "abysmal" record against Wigan at Upton Park, losing three on the trot. This matters not, but I thought it might be helpful in adding a bit of context, lest you should think that we are somehow favourites for tomorrow.
We do absolutely love a last minute goal there though, as Nigel Reo-Coker proved when he gained us a reasonably undeserved 3 points last season. The question therefore arising is will it be a "winner" or a "poxy late consolation".
3. The Early Bird Massacres The Worm
Points gained when the opposition have scored first: 9
Points gained when we have scored first: 22
I have put my formidable intellect to work and come up with the following suggestion. SCORE FIRST. Early and often would be my preferred style, should anyone require further analysis.
And to think that some of you wouldn't buy The H List book. Pah!
4. That's Just So Last Year
Whilst researching the above statistic (cue dozens of H List readers spluttering their coffee, whilst mouthing "You research this stuff?") I did notice that we actually topped the Premiership in 05/06 for points gained from losing positions.
A lot of people point to this as an example of the superior team spirit under Pardew. I tend to view it as an example of how crap we were at starting games last year, but then I am an obstreperous sort.
The problem with the tendency of coming from behind is that it flies in the face of all known logic and statistical analysis. Anomalies are so called for a reason and as such we have now reverted to the norm in this area at least (I aspire for us to be "the norm" in lots of other areas by the way).
Of course, it shouldn't be forgotten that this current vintage are the antithesis of last year's team, despite the crossover in personnel. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that they're the Evil Relation of last year's side. You know, like that black Spiderman suit, or The Mummy Returns, or Graham Rooney - a man who makes a living from looking like his brother (a fact that no sane person would want to highlight).
5. The Opposition
I am on record as saying that I like Wigan, or at least I don't lose the will to live when watching them, a la Aston Villa. Paul Jewell is a good manager, hamstrung by geography and a curious attachment to 74 year old Arjan de Zeeuw.
Up front they will go with Emile Heskey, a man whose middle name is Ivanhoe, and who was England's starting left winger in the first game of the 2002 World Cup. Have a guess which of those two facts I find weirder.
Heskey is the man for whom the phrase "You might think he's underachieved but actually when you look back on it he's probably overachieved" was invented. Admittedly it's not that common a phrase but let's all spread the gospel.
6. Anton And On And On And Someone Just Lock His Bloody Door
Anton Ferdinand continues his crusade to win the title of "Premiership's Stupidest Footballer". It hardly bears thinking about that he's clearly winning the race too.
Not content with the upcoming trial at Crown Court, Anton decided that the week before our latest Biggest Game Ever was no time for him to exhibit any sign of being a professional footballer (or indeed a sentient being) and decided to head to Time and Envy in Romford for a midweek mambo.
Naturally, this evolved into a full scale brawl on the dance floor when he dropped some jewellery at an inopportune moment.
They never cease to make you proud, do they?7. Let's Take A Poll
The referee for tomorrow's game is our hero, Graham Poll. We won at Arsenal in spite of this so I have upgraded my feelings on this from "Desperation" to "Mild Panic".
It did get me thinking about the night that made Poll infamous though. The Australia - Croatia match at the Germany 2006 World Cup. That was the night that he booked Croatian centre back Dario Simic 3 times before sending him off. Now what really cracks me up about this is that Simic got his last booking for a professional foul/dissent combo.
Just think how loony you have to be to do that when you've already been booked twice.
8. Will The Real West Ham Please Stand Up
Not that I want to wander too far down the road of mindless optimism, but if we win tomorrow then we'd be level on points with Wigan. That, of course, means little given that we are hardly likely to pick up any more points this year but it would be nice to at least make a gesture towards fighting.
I have a feeling that Lucas Neill will be the man who sets the tone tomorrow. For all his noble talk, Reo-Coker is not a man who tends to lead by example, unless you count that odd Laffy Taffy dance thing he got them all doing last year.
9. Fine, You Take Him
So the waiting is over, until someone else appeals, and we have been fined £5.5m as a result of the signings of Tevez and Mascherano.
My immediate thought is to simply donate Luis Boa Morte to the cause. If the Premier League won't accept that then maybe we could get away with simply donating him to medical science.
My second thought is to sacrifice Terence Brown and Paul Aldridge to the sun god Ra by tying them to a boat on the Thames and catapulting forks across the waves at them. Nothing too fancy, like.
10. The DenouementYou've got to love a country where it's okay for Jon Obi Mikel to allegedly sign a contract with Manchester United under extreme duress, and then they are able to turn around and sell him for £6m to Chelsea because that's actually what he fancied doing all along.
Needless to say the Premier League felt no need to investigate that particular transfer.
Of course, it would seem that we have crossed a line somewhere and are now paying the price. I must say that it smarts a little to be the club who finally get caught with a dodgy calculator when the entire universe is happy enough to accept that everyone is doing it.
I'm more than willing to admit that I know absolutely nothing about the Premier League or it's compliance regulations but then of course it's not my job to advise anybody about it. Sadly the Club's legal advisers didn't take quite the same honourable position.
I can't help feeling that if Chelsea had signed the Argentinians, then today would have had a very different outcome. We almost seem to have been punished for having the temerity to have tried it. Regrettably, we have actually been punished for being totally, completely and utterly crap at off field activities. God Bless Terence Brown.