Both West Brom and Middlesbrough were humbled in the EFL Cup in midweek, with Northampton and Fulham respectively their conquerors, but it is the Teessiders who are better positioned to recover from that disappointment.
The Championship runners-up are outsiders to claim the three points at 11/5 but are yet to suffer a Premier League defeat since returning, holding Stoke on the opening day before achieving an impressive victory at rivals Sunderland, leading 2-0 at the interval.
By contrast, the 13/8-rated Baggies won 1-0 at Crystal Palace – a result since put into context by the Eagles’ dismal start to the campaign – before losing at home to Everton despite assuming an early advantage.
That Hawthorns flop shouldn’t have been a shock as the midlanders are on a run of one point from five games in front of their fans dating back to mid-March, with the draw occurring when Liverpool fielded a complete shadow squad days before the Europa League final. Even Adam Bogdan started.
Another pattern visible when studying West Brom’s results as hosts is that they were beaten by each of the promoted trio last term – Bournemouth, Norwich and Watford – so, as they are already on one home loss for 2016-17 and Boro are off the mark away, 11/5 on the guests really does stand out.
However, there is one way that both are defying expectations. Though Tony Pulis and Aitor Karanka share reputations for being safety-first – West Brom’s matches had fewer goals than anyone else’s in the Premier League last season and Boro’s the fourth-lowest in the Championship – both teams to score has a 67% strike rate in the former’s encounters so far this month and 100% in the latter’s.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.