Neither Nottingham Forest nor West Brom were able to get their campaigns off to a winning start on Saturday. The two teams lock horns on Tuesday night at the City Ground with Mark O'Haire previewing the encounter.
"The Forest boss has seen his side return W3-D3-L4 in his 10 matches in charge on home soil as the hosts have fired blanks on six occasions."
Karanka angry at Forest's opening encounter
Nottingham Forest manager Aitor Karanka ripped into his team at half-time of Saturday's curtain-raiser against Bristol City. The Spaniard was furious with his team's attitude and application in the opening 45 minutes at Ashton Gate and his interval roasting at least inspired an improved second-half performance.
After a record summer of spending - having paid around £25m for 11 new players - expectations had risen around Forest. But the visitors were behind after five minutes and probably should have been at least two goals adrift before Karanka was given his chance to put his views across at the break.
Daryl Murphy's header from a pinpoint Adlene Guedioura cross two minutes into the second-half earned the Tricky Trees a point although substitute Joe Lolley came closest to winning the encounter with a 25-yard drive late on. New Portuguese signings Gil Dias, Joao Carvalho and Diogo Goncalves are all expected to keep their places in the starting XI for Tuesday.
A wake-up call for West Brom
West Brom boss Darren Moore admitted his side got a "wake-up call" after their surprise 2-1 loss at home to Bolton on Saturday. The Baggies shipped a last-minute goal to end pointless on their return to the second tier after eight seasons in the Premier League.
Albion enjoyed over 70% possession and fired in 20 attempts at The Hawthorns but managed only three on-target efforts. One of which was Harvey Barnes' equaliser with a stunning curling effort from distance. Ahmed Hegazi almost levelled proceedings in stoppage-time but his header came back off the bar.
Moore bemoaned his team's defending from set-pieces but summer additions Kyle Bartley and Sam Johnstone are expected to keep their place in the side for Tuesday's tussle. The swap deal that saw Salomon Rondon head to Newcastle with Dwight Gayle coming the other way was completed in time for the former Palace frontman to make the squad, although he'll likely start on the bench.
Nottingham Forest [2.44] are expected to challenge for a promotion place after a lavish summer spending spree and if the Tricky Trees are to realise such lofty ambitions, they'll need to improve upon their record at the City Ground under Aitor Karanka's watch.
The Forest boss has seen his side return W3-D3-L4 in his 10 matches in charge on home soil as the hosts have fired blanks on six occasions. The arrival of an attacking continent from Portugal has aided the Tricky Trees' offensive approach, as has the possible inclusion of Lewis Grabban.
Eight of last season's squad were included in West Brom's [3.25] team for their opening outing against Bolton and the Baggies play for the most part was plagued by lethargy and staleness. Darren Moore may look to shuffle his pack here but none of the visitors' options are particularly inspiring.
With neither side appealing at the prices, the draw [3.40] is perhaps the most attractive option in the Match Odds market.
Seven of the past eight meetings between these two teams has paid out in the Under 2.5 Goals market and with Aitor Karanka having pedigree for overseeing low-scoring games when in charge of Forest and Middlesbrough, it's no surprise to see Under 2.5 Goals trading as low as [1.70].
So instead, have a play on Both Teams To Score at [1.96]. The duo both appeared a touch undercooked on Saturday, giving away numerous high-quality opportunities from dead-ball situations, and open play. With the pair still settling down in their search for early season rhythm, chances should appear at both ends of the pitch.