Weblog: The football punter

West Brom and Forest may have to share points

Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports Football & Main Event, 7.45pm Tuesday

West Brom made a nightmare start to life in the Sky Bet Championship and they face another tricky test against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.

The Baggies, surprisingly beaten 2-1 at home by Bolton on Saturday, would probably take any kind of positive result just to get points on the board following last season's relegation from the Premier League and a draw could be the best bet.

If Albion did not realise how unforgiving the Championship would be they do now with coach Darren Moore calling it a "good wake-up call" for his squad as they failed to deal with the pressure of being expected to make the running.

For so long West Brom were Premier League underdogs, happy to sit back, and they looked uncomfortable knowing the onus was on them to attack Bolton, who nicked maximum points with a late Yanic Wildschut winner.

West Brom had 72 per cent of possession at the Hawthorns on Saturday but managed only three shots on target and needed a stunning effort from Harvey Barnes to get on the scoresheet, so Moore clearly has much work to do reshaping his squad.

However, a trip to Nottingham could be more to West Brom's liking with Jake Livermore and Chris Brunt able to sit in front of the back four rather than go searching for attacking opportunities.

Forest are the team under more scrutiny in some respects. They will play their first home match of the season in front of an expectant crowd following a substantial summer spending spree which prompted record season-ticket sales in excess of 20,000.

Aitor Karanka was able to splash the cash to such an extent that striker Lewis Grabban was only on the bench for Saturday's opener at Bristol City, while Hilal Soudani, Ben Brereton, Joe Worrall and Liam Bridcutt were not even in the 18-man squad.

Karanka cannot complain about a lack of squad depth having been seriously backed in the transfer market, although given the raft of new signings it shouldn't have come as a huge shock that Forest produced an inconsistent display in their 1-1 draw at Ashton Gate.

The result was better than the performance with Forest nowhere near up to speed in the first half.

They improved after Daryl Murphy equalised and more will be expected of Portuguese attacking midfield debutants Gil Dias, Joao Carvalho and Diogo Goncalves as the season progresses.

Defence remains a priority for Karanka, a disciple of Jose Mourinho, and they could keep West Brom's attackers quiet but may not be quite ready to take such a major scalp.


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