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Match Preview: Leicester begin Premier League road to recovery against Middlesbrough

Champions League Round of 16 is confirmed. The Foxes now shift their extended focus towards the Premier League, but they’ll be without Drinkwater for the next three matches.

Watford v Leicester City - Premier League Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Location: King Power Stadium, Leicestershire, England

Kick-off time: 3:00 PM GMT, 10:00 AM Eastern, 7:00 AM Pacific

Leicester aim to end their three-match winless streak against Middlesbrough on Saturday at the King Power Stadium and they’ll have to do it without midfielder Danny Drinkwater.

The England international will accept a three-match ban for violent conduct after the charge was handed down by the FA on Thursday. The situation amplifies Leicester’s task in the midfield with Drinkwater being a cornerstone in the middle of the park for for the Foxes this season while inconsistency has filled the remaining spot.

Now would be a good time for Nampalys Mendy to make his return from injury, but it looks like we’re still a ways away from that. That leaves Andy King and Daniel Amartey to fill the void with the potential for Bartosz Kapustka to get a crack at the first team. A shift to the formation could come from moving someone like Demarai Gray forward in a 4-3-3, but the Foxes are also slim on attacking bodies with injuries to Leonardo Ulloa and Islam Slimani.

Leicester and Middlesbrough sit side-by-side in the Premier League table in 14th and 15th with 12 points through six matches. Both look at this match as a chance to capitalize on another struggling team’s form to break their own streak. The difference is that Middlesbrough faced the likes of Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea in their past five matches while the Foxes were busy losing to Watford and West Brom.

The two haven’t met in the Premier League in over a decade, but had regular looks at one another in the Championship during that time. In fact, Boro’s longest winless streak against any other team is currently Leicester, having not won against the Foxes in 12 matches (D6, L6). Vardy’s been on the scoresheet in his last three meetings with Boro.

Leicester secured their spot in the last-16 of the Champions League midweek against Club Brugge. With top spot in Group G locked up, that gives the Foxes time to focus on the Premier League before heading back to Europe in mid-February.

What will be a long road to recovery in the league officially beginning now, the Foxes have their work cut out for them in the bottom half of the table. A total of 13, potentially 14 fixtures lie ahead for Claudio Ranieri’s men before returning to the Champions League, so it’s a crucial time to work back towards top Premier League form.