Though he wasn’t thrilled by the performance of the referee, in the end, Crystal Palace manager Alan Pardew didn’t bemoan the end result, admitting that Liverpool were the better side on the day—and more than that, that they are deservedly being talked of as title contenders for the 2016-17 Premier League season.
“It’s very difficult to play against them,” noted Pardew. “The speed, the runners, they come from every angle. They’ve got fantastic players. Firmino plays that striker role really cleverly, you don’t really know where he is and it’s unnatural for centre halves. He pulls you around, pops up in midfield, and someone replaces him.
“It was a bit too open for us against a side as good as they were. They kept wriggling out of situations with some brilliant technical play. We didn't have enough pressure at the top of the pitch and their two centre halves had too much time, and then we were defending in the last third where they're as good as anyone.”
The message was much the same from Palace midfielder James McArthur, who called Liverpool the best side Palace have faced so far this season—better even than Tottenham Hotspur, the other top six side The Eagles have played against and a side that beat them 1-0 at White Hart Lane back in August.
Palace’s other games of note so far this season have included a 2-0 defeat at Southampton, a 3-1 defeat at defending champions Leicester City, and a 1-1 draw with Everton, all sides that will be hoping to compete with the likes of Manchester United for a Europa League place over the course of the season.
“I’d say that’s the best side we’ve played this year as a team performance,” was McArthur’s take. “The front six, the way they press the ball and rotate, they’re a really strong contender this year.”