Both of these sides will be a little disappointed with their opening day results, but while Forest were able to point to a spirited fightback having fallen behind as early as the fifth minute, the Baggies had to endure the misery of a last gasp defeat to relegation candidates Bolton. Captain Chris Brunt bore the brunt of the supporters’ displeasure, but in reality West Brom were undone at set pieces and will need to raise their game.
While some expected Nottingham Forest to entertain with considerable swagger, the presence of Aitor Karanka in the hot seat should have curtailed such thoughts after emerging as Mourinho’s assistant in Madrid before constructing a pragmatic outfit at Middlesbrough. Indeed, the defensive style of play was in part the reason he was dismissed form Boro, and following West Brom’s opening day defeat, we’re not expecting Darren Moore to send his troops out gung-ho either as they look to register something positive on the board.
So far under Karanka, Forest have seen fewer than three goals in 14 of their 21 matches, with four of the exceptions coming against teams that finished in the bottom nine last term. In fact, five of his six encounters with those who were promoted or qualified for the play-offs saw Under 2.5 Goals, while West Brom are expected to compete in that region this season. Further, given West Brom’s firepower will almost certainly be reduced further by Salomon Rondon’s impending departure for Newcastle, a low-scoring match is on the cards. That also leaves the stalemate as a viable option, especially as Karanka is yet to lead Forest to victory over a top-10 team despite pitching up at the City Ground in early January.