Recent results point emphatically to a home win, with Northampton unbeaten from four starts and Wasps recording just one victory during that same period.
And Wasps' degree of difficulty is compounded by the fact they have not triumphed away from home in any competition since January.
But Mallinder said: "Wasps have been very competitive in every game this season.
"They soundly beat London Irish two weeks ago, and they scored 40 points against Harlequins on the opening weekend.
"They have some of the most dangerous runners in the league, experienced playmakers at half-back and a pack which has the ability to produce quality ball.
"They have shown several times what can happen if they are given the chance to play.
"We certainly cannot afford a repeat of the last 20 minutes of the game against Worcester, where we nearly threw away all the hard work that had been put in during the first hour."
Northampton conceded 28 points after leading the Warriors 37-3 last Saturday, while Wasps showed in patches against Gloucester that they can be a dangerous outfit.
"We got a point at Gloucester, and perhaps it was a point we might not have got last season, but we have a better team than last season and we have to set our sights higher," Wasps rugby director David Young said.
"I suppose I sound like a broken record, but I will keep saying that an 80-minute performance has yet to come from us.
"We are showing good things in fits and starts, but we don't look capable yet of consistency over the whole game, and that is frustrating.
"We need to be meaner and tighter and make sure teams are earning every point they get off us."
Prop Tim Payne makes his 250th appearance for Wasps at Franklin's Gardens in a side that also sees starts for wing James Bailey, fly-half Nicky Robinson and number eight Billy Vunipola. Saints, meanwhile, call up centre Dom Waldouck and flanker Tom Wood.
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