Everton V Leicester at Goodison Park : Match Preview

08 April 2017

Ronald Koeman struggling to understand Leicester's change in fortunes

Leicester's upturn under Craig Shakespeare is incomprehensible to Everton manager Ronald Koeman as he looks to end their winning run at Goodison Park on Sunday.

The Foxes have won all six fixtures since Claudio Ranieri was sacked towards the end of February after flirting with the relegation zone just nine months on from their improbable Premier League title triumph.

They could end this weekend back in the top half of the division, prior to a Champions League quarter-final trip to Atletico Madrid, thanks to the transformation Shakespeare has overseen with the same group of players that Ranieri had at his disposal.

The stark contrast in results has flummoxed Koeman, who is anticipating facing the Leicester of old on Merseyside.

"We know it looks like the Leicester from last season, with all the strength, with all the spirit," the Dutchman said.

"I don't understand why there's a big difference. (It's) the same players, maybe the manager now is keeping the team more what it was last season. Maybe that's a reason, I don't know. We expect a tough opponent."

A raft of injuries has ensured Koeman has been unable to stick with a consistent XI himself and he will be forced into at least one change for the visit of the Foxes due to the absence of the suspended Ashley Williams.

With Seamus Coleman and Ramiro Funes Mori already missing, Koeman will have to again trust a youngster - probably Matthew Pennington - to fill in alongside the vastly-experienced Phil Jagielka.

The 34-year-old Toffees skipper had spent nine successive games starting among the substitutes before returning to the line-up for the most recent four matches, and Koeman has been impressed by the way he handled being left out of his team.

"I'm really pleased because Phil had a difficult time," he explained.

"He had a difficult time when he was not playing because it's a different role. I've asked him still to be captain of the team and I think he changed his mentality in that.

"Of course he's normally still disappointed if he's not starting. He's showing at the moment that he's still a really strong, good defender for the team."

Shakespeare will equal a Premier League record if Leicester beat Everton but he insists the team remaining unbeaten is more important than any personal accolades.

Shakespeare is the first British boss to win his first five games in the Premier League and the 53-year-old will join some esteemed company alongside Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola as the only managers to win their first six should Leicester win at Goodison Park.

Shakespeare wants his players to maintain the momentum they have built and remain undefeated - regardless of where that might put him in the record books.

He said: "Of course, the idea is to win. But if you can't win you make sure you don't lose.

"I think it would mean more getting the three points rather than records. It is nice and they come with the territory of the games, but more importantly it is about the three points for us as a team. And if we cant manage to get the win then we make sure we don't lose.

"It would be nice to keep the momentum going with another win. I couldn't have wished for a better start.

"The idea is to start out and make sure you are competitive and you know the opposition's strengths and weaknesses. We know it is a difficult task against Everton but we know the players will be ready and up for it."

Leicester will still be without captain Wes Morgan against Everton.

The central defender has missed the last three matches with a back injury and he will remain on the sidelines at Goodison Park, as well as missing the first leg of the Foxes' Champions League quarter-final clash in Madrid next week.

Midfielder Nampalys Mendy is also still out with his knee problem and he is set to see a specialist.