West Bromwich Albion and Watford square off at The Hawthorns on Monday evening looking to build on their positive starts to the season.
While the Baggies earned a draw away at Middlesbrough on the opening weekend, recently-relegated Watford came out on top against Sheffield United.
Given their struggles during 2021-22, Steve Bruce would have hoped for an easier beginning to the season than making the long trip to face Middlesbrough.
Nevertheless, a comeback 1-1 draw at the Riverside Stadium should only benefit the Baggies going forward as they bid to launch a sustained bid for promotion.
Bruce had spoken highly of new arrivals John Swift and Jed Wallace in the build-up to the contest in the North East, and the pair combined for West Brom’s equaliser shortly after the break.
Providing that the forwards in front of them can find some form, the West Midlands outfit have every chance of lasting the pace this season, particularly if Daryl Dike can stay fit and produce the kind of imposing displays that enhanced his reputation at Barnsley.
Despite their drop off in form since the turn of the year, West Brom possess a strong home record since last August, and that will be put to the test on Monday night.
Rob Edwards made the decision to swap gradual progression with Forest Green Rovers to catapult himself into the limelight with Watford over the summer, the risk being that he will become yet another Hornets boss who fails to last a year.
However, beating a team with the quality of Sheffield United represented the best possible start for a manager who will constantly find himself under pressure at Vicarage Road.
If reports are to be believed, Watford have had chances to cash in on Joao Pedro this summer, but the young Brazilian came up with the goal which proved to be the difference against the Blades.
While the likes of Ismaila Sarr and Emmanuel Dennis may depart Watford before the end of the summer transfer window, the foundations appear to be in place for Watford to potentially emerge as the frontrunners for the title over the coming weeks and months.
While Bruce would have taken enough positives from the draw with Middlesbrough, there is scope for a couple of changes being made to the Baggies XI.
Alex Mowatt could be preferred to Jayson Molumby in the middle of the pitch, while Bruce may be prepared to unleash Dike down the middle of the attack.
Bruce has also confirmed that Okay Yokuslu is in contention to make his first appearance since returning to the club.
Edwards may be prepared to stick with the same Watford starting lineup from the win over Sheffield United.
That would see new arrivals Rey Manaj and Vakoun Issouf Bayo have to make do with a place on the substitutes’ bench.
West Bromwich Albion possible starting lineup:
Button; Furlong, Ajayi, O’Shea, Townsend; Molumby, Livermore; Wallace, Swift, Phillips; Dike
Watford possible starting lineup:
Bachmann; Kabasele, Sierralta, Cathcart; Kamara, Cleverley; Kayembe, Sema; Sarr, Dennis; Pedro