Leicester City brought their dreadful away form into 2017, salvaging a 0-0 draw to newly promoted Middlesbrough. It's now 267 days and counting since the Foxes last won away in the league, and if today’s performance was anything to go by, that winless streak looks destined to continue.
Claudio Ranieri made 5 changes to the side that took down West Ham on Saturday, which seemed a little excessive at the time, but playing 2 games in 43 hours tends to force your hand. Still, without your best available striker in Islam Slimani and best all-around midfielder in Danny Drinkwater, it might be a good idea to fill the team with plenty of pace against a side in Middlesbrough that have a reputation for lacking it. Instead, Ranieri opted to start Leo Ulloa and Shinji Okazaki as a strike force, and it worked about as well as you'd expect.
It actually looked to have paid off in the 7th minute, when a Leicester free-kick was sent towards the back post. Ulloa was able to knock it down for Okazaki, but the Japanese international couldn't shift his feet quick enough to get a clean strike at goal. Moments later, Andy King found Christian Fuchs, who fired a shot just wide.
From there the game became a total snooze-fest, with the hosts having the lion’s share of possession. Leicester didn't seem to mind, defending soundly as Middlesbrough seemed content to aimlessly pass the ball around without any real attacking intent. There were plenty of stoppages in play, with the fouls starting to stack up as the half progressed, leaving the game with zero flow and zero intrigue.
The second half offered slightly more than the first, but still lacked quality from either side. Middlesbrough continued to own possession, but struggled to make anything of it, as they have in recent games.
Leicester nearly found the opener through a corner after a rare break forward in the 69th minute. The ball was whipped into Ulloa, who only managed to connect with his shoulder from six yards out, a comfortable save for Guzan.
The best chance of the game fell to the hosts, as a cross into the box kicked up in front of Wes Morgan. The skipper headed the ball straight into the path of Ramirez, who somehow managed to drag his shot wide from 8 yards out, a sigh of relief for the Foxes faithful.
Overall it's a point, but it was hard to watch. With the fixtures in quick succession, rotation is a must, but personally, I wouldn't be starting Ulloa and Okazaki against a team that's known for a lack of pace across the pitch.
The game was crying out for Jamie Vardy, but since he was serving the final match of his suspension, a better option would've been Ahmed Musa, who's probably the best available like-for-like replacement. Either way, the point leaves the Foxes 14th in the table for now, as they look to continue distancing themselves from the relegation zone.