Villa suffered a humbling defeat by Peterborough to end their cup run before it had even started, although they had more success in their last league fixture with a 5-0 thrashing of promotion rivals Bristol City.
Steve Bruce’s side are 7/5 (2.40) favourites with Paddy Power to secure a third successive league win and their sixth away victory of the campaign.
Karanka is 2/1 (3.0) to get off to a winning start, having been victorious the last time he went head-to-head with Steve Bruce when Middlesbrough beat Hull 1-0 back in March 2016 in a dramatic promotion clash.
Both bosses are known for their pragmatic approaches and a draw can be found at 21/10 (2.10), with five of the last eight meetings between these two former European champions finishing all square.
Tommy Elphick is in good form for Aston Villa and should partner James Chester at centre-back as John Terry remains injured despite playing in the loss to Peterborough.
The main dilemma is the left-back slot as Alan Hutton excelled there in the win over Bristol City, but Neil Taylor is more accustomed to that position so manger Bruce has a decision to make on Saturday afternoon.
The hosts are expected to field an almost identical side that played so well against Arsenal, barring centre-back Joe Worrall, who will miss out through suspension and is set to be replaced by Matt Mills.
Back a Forest clean sheet
Forest might have conceded 42 goals in 26 league games, but there were signs of them taking fewer defensive risks under caretaker manager Gary Brazil and that is expected to continue.
Middlesbrough kept 43 clean sheets from 92 in Karanka’s two full Championship seasons in charge and the Spaniard’s reign on Trentside is 11/5 (3.20) to begin with a shut-out.
Hourihane and Brereton to threaten
If the Villans do find the net, Conor Hourihane is an anytime option at 7/2 (4.50) and the Irishman is second top scorer with six, as well as bagging in his last two meetings with Saturday’s opponents.
Similarly, Ben Brereton’s first professional goal came against Bruce’s men just 11 months ago; the 18-year-old has been given more opportunities as a central forward recently and is 11/4 (3.75) to score at any point.
Tips and predictions
There is every chance that the Reds will benefit initially from a new manager bounce, and Karanka’s experience of promotion on Teesside will certainly create a sense of optimism around the club.
On the other hand, Aston Villa’s good form means they shouldn’t be opposed without some form of insurance, so taking Nottingham Forest in the Draw No Bet market at 11/10 (2.10) makes sense as it allows us to side with the hosts at good value, whilst also getting our money back in the plausible eventuality of a tie.Nottingham Forest Draw No Bet at 11/10 (2.1) for a 2pt stake with Paddy Power