The Saints top Pool Four by a single point following last weekend's round of fixtures and thus need a bonus-point victory to not just guarantee a place in the semi-finals, but also a possible home tie.
And with the Saints still smarting from last Saturday's loss at Bath, Mallinder insists an improvement will be needed against Wasps, a team the Saints boss says deserve respect.
"It's a big game for us," he said. "We started the LV= Cup well with two bonus point wins and we need to keep that momentum.
"We need to win to get through and qualify for a semi-final. We don't want weeks off during the season; we want our holidays in the summer.
"That means we've got to win at the weekend, it's as simple as that.
"Wasps will be a difficult proposition. They may be out of the tournament but they've still got everything to play for in terms of getting on track in the league.
"They will attack us in a number of ways and we've got to make sure we step up and that our defence improves a lot from last week."
Calum Clark will captain the Saints side after he was released from England's Six Nations squad.
Meanwhile, Wasps are poised to hand debuts to their two new Russian recruits.
Having completed their first full week of training with the squad, both Victor Gresev and Vladislav Korshunov have been named in the matchday 23.
Gresev will start at number eight, while Korshunov is set to feature from the bench.
Eighteen-year-old Nathan Morris and 19-year-old Will Robinson will also earn their first starts for the club - Morris starting at hooker and Robinson getting the nod at fly-half after performing well from the bench last weekend in his first appearance at Adams Park.
In total, there are eight changes to the team that played Exeter Chiefs in last weekend's LV=Cup game at Adams Park.
In the backs, Hugo Southwell and Richard Haughton start alongside youngster Robinson, while in the forwards, Tim Payne, Morris and Ben Broster come into the side to make up a new-look front row, with Matt Everard and Victor Gresev taking up positions in the back row.
Charlie Davies will once again captain the side.
Northampton: 15 Paul Diggin, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 George Pisi, 12 James Downey, 11 Noah Cato, 10 Stephen Myler, 9 Martin Roberts, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Ben Nutley, 6 Calum Clark (c), 5 Christian Day, 4 James Craig, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Andy Long, 1 Soane Tonga'uiha.
Replacements: 16 Mike Haywood, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Tom Mercey, 19 Mark Sorenson, 20 Samu Manoa, 21 Ryan Glynn, 22 Tom May, 23 Vasily Artemyev.
Wasps: 15 Hugo Southwell, 14 Lee Robinson, 13 Alex Cheesman, 12 Chris Mayor, 11 Richard Haughton, 10 Will Robinson, 9 Charlie Davies (c), 8 Victor Gresev, 7 Matt Everard, 6 Tinus DuPlessis, 5 Ed O'Donoghue, 4 Heinz Koll, 3 Ben Broster, 2 Nathan Morris, 1 Tim Payne.
Replacements: 16 Vladislav Korshunov, 17 Bob Baker, 18 Simon McIntyre, 19 Joe Burton, 20 Sam Jones, 21 Joe Simpson, 22 Nick Robinson, 23 Charlie Ingall.
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The Barbarians are one of the top invitational rugby sides with a long history and classic rugby jersey.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Lions get ready for their matches with this green training jersey. It's what the players wear. Get in the Gear!
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The Lions are ready to get their Australia tour underway. They arrive in Perth on Monday.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.