Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion will be looking to begin improved campaign in the Championship when they meet at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday.
Despite optimistic pre-season predictions, both teams finished outside of the playoffs in 2021-22, but expectations remain high at the Baggies and Boro.
Although the opening six months of Chris Wilder in charge of Middlesbrough should be regarded as positive, there was naturally disappointed when his side ran out of steam during the run-in to miss out on the playoffs.
However, there is hope for that setback being a blessing in disguise, Wilder now having the licence to put together his own squad with this season and beyond in mind.
While fans will have concerns about the proposed sale of Marcus Tavernier to Bournemouth, the funds from that sale and the transfer of Djed Spence to Tottenham Hotspur provide Wilder with the ammunition to put together a more balanced group.
Darragh Lenihan could emerge as a key addition in defence, as could Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester City loanees Ryan Giles and Zack Steffen on the left flank and between the sticks respectively.
Middlesbrough won four of their five pre-season matches, including a victory over Marseille, with their only defeat coming at the hands of Braga by a 3-0 scoreline.
Meanwhile, West Bromwich Albion are not really being spoken of as genuine contenders for the Championship title this season as was their fall from grace last season.
However, Steve Bruce may prefer it that way, being aware that the additions of Jed Wallace and John Swift should help keep his side in contention for promotion.
Supporters will still feel that it has been somewhat of an underwhelming summer, but the core of this team remains strong with only a replacement potentially being required for the outgoaing goallkeeper Sam Johnstone.
Middlesbrough vs West Bromwich Albion head to head
The two teams have previously met on 84 occasions across all competitions, where Middlesbrough have claimed 37 victories while West Brom have won 30, and they have drawn in 17. Middlesbrough have scored 114 goals and conceded 106. In their last five meetings, West Brom have won one, Middlesbrough three with one draw.
West Bromwich Albion 2-3 Middlesbrough 02/02/19
Middlesbrough 0-1 West Bromwich Albion 19/10/19
West Bromwich Albion 0-2 Middlesbrough 20/12/19
West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Middlesbrough 06/11/21
Middlesbrough 2-1 West Bromwich Albion 22/02/22
Middlesbrough latest home form
Middlesbrough have recently been on a good run of form at home, as they have won each of their three most recent matches. They managed to defeat Marseille 2-0 in their last home game in a friendly. In their last five matches, they have scored seven goals and conceded four.
Middlesbrough 0-1 Hull City 09/04/22
Middlesbrough 0-2 Huddersfield Town 18/04/22
Middlesbrough 2-0 Cardiff City 27/04/22
Middlesbrough 3-1 Stoke City 30/04/22
Middlesbrough 2-0 Marseille 22/07/22
Middlesbrough latest away form
Middlesbrough have recently been on a relatively good run of form on the road, having lost just two of their 10 most recent matches. They managed to defeat Morecambe 3-0 in their last away game in a friendly. In their last five matches, they have scored 12 goals and conceded nine.
Preston North End 4-1 Middlesbrough 07/05/22
Bishop Auckland 0-5 Middlesbrough 02/07/22
York City 2-3 Middlesbrough 08/07/22
Sporting Braga 3-0 Middlesbrough 15/07/22
Morecambe 0-3 Middlesbrough 19/07/22
West Bromwich Albion latest home form
West Brom have recently been on a good run of form at home, having been unbeaten in their four most recent matches. They managed to defeat Hertha Berlin 2-1 in their last home game in the league. In their last five matches, they have scored nine goals and conceded five.
West Bromwich Albion 1-3 Stoke City 09/04/22
West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Blackpool 15/04/22
West Bromwich Albion 0-0 Coventry City 23/04/22
West Bromwich Albion 4-0 Barnsley 07/05/22
West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Hertha Berlin 23/07/22
West Bromwich Albion latest away form
West Brom have recently been on a relatively good run of form at home, having lost just one of their six most recent matches. They defeated Oxford United 3-0 in their last away game in a friendly. In their last five matches, they have scored nine goals and conceded four.
Leyton Orient 1-2 West Bromwich Albion 04/07/22
Stevenage 2-0 West Bromwich Albion 09/07/22
Northampton Town 0-3 West Bromwich Albion 13/07/22
Crewe Alexandra 1-1 West Bromwich Albion 16/07/22
Oxford United 0-3 West Bromwich Albion 19/07/22
Paddy McNair is suspended after his final-day dismissal at Preston North End, and Boro will hope that Dael Fry is available again after missing the final friendly against Marseille.
Should Fry be unavailable, then Marc Bola should deputise in the back three, with Tommy Smith unlikely to start so soon after his arrival.
West Bromwich Albion news
Karlan Grant is likely to retain his spot in the centre of West Brom’s attack despite Daryl Dike scoring as a substitute against Hertha Berlin.
Barring any injury issues, the squad from that game could stay intact, with Okay Yokuslu expected to only be named on the substitutes’ bench at best.
Prediction and Odds
Both managers will feel that they have made some crucial additions this summer, which has provided them with the platform to challenge for promotion.
However, we feel that it will be Middlesbrough who comes out on top on this match potentially through a goal in the late minutes of the game.
Odds: 1 2.15 X 2.05 2 2.28
Middlesbrough 1-0 West Bromwich Albion
Middlesbrough 2-0 West Bromwich Albion
Middlesbrough 2-1 West Bromwich Albion
Middlesbrough 0-0 West Bromwich Albion
Middlesbrough 1-1 West Bromwich Albion