LONDON (Reuters) – Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is full of admiration for Leicester City’s style of football which has propelled the Midlands club to the top of the Premier League.
Leicester lead Arsenal by two points at Christmas after a breathtaking opening half of the season which has seen them top the scoring charts with 37 goals in 17 games.
“They play nearly perfect counter attacking football, very quick,” Klopp, who replaced Brendan Rodgers at Anfield in October, told a news conference on Thursday.
“I have big respect for (Leicester manager) Claudio (Ranieri) and the whole squad of Leicester.”
Ranieri visited Borussia Dortmund’s training ground last season when Klopp was still in charge, and the two managers clearly share a similar football philosophy.
“It’s always interesting to talk to people like him and that’s what we did,” Klopp said.
“There’s big respect from both sides. He will always stay successful in his managerial career.”
Leicester have benefitted from no European distractions this season, and a relatively light injury list, although Klopp says the Foxes are deservedly leading the title race.
“I’m not surprised (about their progress),” he said. “That’s how football works, you need to use and take your chances. That’s what they do.
“They don’t need too many chances to score goals. They have two obvious strong strikers with perfect runs, no injuries, can go all week and they have a long week to train and recover.
“It’s really deserved and I’m not surprised anymore, nobody is. It’s no coincidence, it’s really hard work.
“They deserve the run they are in. It’s good defending and nearly perfect counter-attacking football, it’s really quick and high quality.”
Jamie Vardy (15) and Riyad Mahrez (13) have combined to score 75.7 percent of Leicester’s league goals this season, with Algerian Mahrez twice on target in last week’s 3-2 victory against Liverpool’s Merseyside neighbours Everton.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)