Manager John Sheridan has huge respect for Rochdale and their boss Keith Hill but wants to claim the bragging rights this weekend.
Latics enter the game in good form, claiming seven points from a possible nine in their last three home games.
The latest victory came against Blackpool on Tuesday night as Matt Palmer’s only goal sealed a valuable three points to edge Latics nearer to safety.
However, Rochdale pose a different task for Sheridan and his team as it has the added spice of a derby game.
Latics did the double over their nearest rivals last season but Sheridan knows it will be a tough test for his players this weekend.
He said: "They are a good team and I always like the way Keith sets up his team. I think he’s done a brilliant job at Rochdale and I like how he gets his side to play football.
"He’s got some good players as well and he is a good manager. He knows his stuff and knows exactly the player he wants and he usually picks the right teams.
"They usually play good football but we are at home and it is a good game for us. It will be a good crowd I’m sure and we know the importance of winning the game.
“The derby will make it a bit tastier but we are the home team and I expect us to win the game.
“I respect Rochdale have had good performances as of late so we’ll be wary of them.”
Earlier in the season, Latics and Rochdale played out a goalless draw at Spotland and Sheridan admitted it’s all about getting the win on Saturday, in whatever means possible.
“Derby games are usually tense and people usually try and get involved in too much so you’ve just got to be relaxed,” he commented.
“They are good games to play in but the most important thing is to win the game and get the bragging rights."
Victory this weekend could take Athletic out of the relegation places for the first time this year. “It’s going to be tight,” the manager admitted.
“Blackpool will still be in and around with a couple of games to go but I just worry about ourselves.
“I think people have got to realise we won’t win every game but at the same time won’t lose every game so we are going to get enough points to keep us up.
"It’s going to be edgy but we’re not going to play sparkling football. If we can and win games then all the better but sometimes you have to grind results out.”
Watch the full interview on Latics PlayerHD.