Another big week of matches for the Foxes - with a 2-1 loss to Watford in the Premier League last weekend, and a 2-1 victory over Club Brugge in the Champions League last night. Here are a few takeaways from this week's action:
Continued struggles in central defense
There has been an ongoing conversation throughout the season as to what’s ailing the Foxes. The rock solid central pairing of Robert Huth and Wes Morgan just has not had that same sense of solidity to it. Last Saturday's match against Watford further highlighted the defensive struggles of the season, as Watford’s ball movement led to Étienne Capoue's opening goal 33 seconds into the match. While the passes were quality, it was the quickness of their play that led to the ability to get that shot on goal.
It is important to note that Huth and Morgan are a quality pairing (no big deal, but they did win the Premier League together), and certainly the strongest duo that the Foxes have for central defense. However, quick, precise passing and well-placed crosses have led to a multitude of difficult moments for the duo. At this point, it is not inconceivable to think that Claudio Ranieri could be working out what his January shopping list, and center back could very well be on it.
Does the side need a center back to take over for either player? No - however, what might be most beneficial is to see if they could sign a player that follows a bit of a different blueprint in the position. Over then summer, Luis Hernandez was brought into the side, and while he can play centrally in the defense, he has not quite fit into this type of role, mainly featuring at right back in Champions League play or as a sub for Danny Simpson. However, bringing in this type of change of pace central defender allows the Foxes to have a bit of a different approach on that back line, and some added depth.
This week has been a bit up and a bit down for Danny Drinkwater. Last night he was brilliant. He was on the end of every ball that was bouncing around or challenging to earn it back. Drinkwater was a menace for Club Brugge, making the midfield a difficult place to venture into all night. It was a great night for him, and it is shame that today brought forth a different note.
In case you missed, this morning, it was announced that the FA had handed Drinkwater a charge of violent conduct after an off the ball clash during last Saturday's match. While nothing has been set yet, Drinkwater could face up to a three match ban. Middlesbrough and Sunderland in the next two matches may not raise immediate concerns in his absence, what looms after causes a bit of concern. Three matches missed, would cause Drinkwater to miss being in the side against Manchester City. Not an ideal situation.
Until we know what the sanctions could be, this is purely speculation. However, how the side may be forced to adapt without Drinkwater is certainly a conversation worth having now. As always, time will tell.
Champions League glory
With the 2-1 victory over Club Brugge last night, the Foxes secured their place in the round of 16 in the Champions League. Just let that sink in a minute. Leicester City find themselves in the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League. This time three years ago, this club was fighting for promotion to the the Premier League. What a moment for the Foxes, and what a difference just a few years can make.
Again, don't diminish the accomplishment, and do not let others tell you that it is no big deal. It is a big deal. Remember where this club has come from to get to this point. Savor all of this, because now the elimination rounds begin, and the work continues. Be proud of what the Foxes have accomplished, but be ready to keep cheering to push them forward for more. With some luck and hard work by the squad, there will be a long road ahead of the Foxes.
What a time to be a Fox.
Up Next: Leicester City host Middlesbrough at the King Power Stadium on Saturday.
(Editor’s note: when Josh gave me this it was the Wednesday after but time and site issues make fools of us all and now it’s Thursday, so happy Thanksgiving, America! I’m thankful for Claudio Ranieri and very jealous that I don’t get the day off).