Dec 17 (Reuters) - High-flying Leicester City’s exploits have won the admiration of their next Premier League opponents, with Everton manager Roberto Martinez praising counterpart Claudio Ranieri’s impact since taking over at the King Power Stadium.
Tenth-placed Everton host the table-toppers on Saturday, with Martinez optimistic that his team can end the Foxes’ 11-game unbeaten away run in the league.
Ranieri, who took over from Nigel Pearson in the close season, has lost just once in the league so far -- against Arsenal on Sept. 26 -- and Martinez said the Italian was the perfect choice for Leicester.
“He has very good experience and is someone who fitted in well to their dressing room,” the Spaniard told Everton’s website (www.evertonfc.com).
”They are a group of players with a very strong spirit but he has brought that know how and a tactical awareness.
”They are having a fantastic season. It’s one of those incredible stories. They are a team that have got no fear.
“They have scored a lot of goals and a team that can do that the way they are doing has a chance to be successful.”
Much of Leicester’s success is down to their in-form duo of Jamie Vardy and Riyadh Mahrez, who are first and third in the league scoring charts, but Everton has a weapon of their own in Romelu Lukaku, the league’s second-highest scorer.
Lukaku is hot on Vardy’s heels, trailing the Leicester striker’s 15 goals by three, and has seven in his last six league games for Everton.
But the Belgian says he is impressed by Vardy, who broke the league record for scoring in consecutive games last month.
“I am happy for him and he deserves the recognition he’s getting,” Lukaku said.
”It’s something special. Scoring 11 goals on the bounce is incredible. It’s not easy at all. You are playing against top defenders so to break that record means you have a lot of quality.
”Credit to him, he’s done great and is having a really good season. As a striker you always want to score goals and on a personal level you always want to be in that number one spot in the scoring charts.
“So he is enjoying that moment I‘m sure but for me, is if I score and we win, that’s good enough for me.” (Writing by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by John O‘Brien)