Tony Pulis saw his brave Stoke side beaten 4-0 at Anfield on Wednesday night and claimed it would be "crazy" to write of Liverpool as potential champions.
The Stoke manager admitted his team were outclassed at Anfield despite a defiant display. For Liverpool, it was the best way to wipe away the memory of their 2-1 defeat at new leaders Tottenham on Saturday.
Pulis, who saw his side achieve a notable 0-0 draw in the corresponding fixture last season, said: "I hold my hands up, we were beaten by a better team and better players."
Fernando Torres put them ahead early on and impressive new-boy Glen Johnson made it two just before the break. Dirk Kuyt and substitute David Ngog completed the scoring in the second half.
He added: "I can't say they will win the title, but they will be right up there fighting for it. Anyone who says anything else is crazy.
"Liverpool created more chances against us here last season, but just did not take them.
"This time they were excellent. They do not only have Torres and Gerrard, who are world class. They have great players right through their team, and they showed that quality against us.
Reds boss Rafael Benitez was delighted with Johnson on his home debut, saying: "We wanted a player with quality who could score and create goals.
"He attacks very well and had a fine game. Against teams who defend deep against us, he can change games."
The Spaniard also revealed after the game that the signing of £2m Greek defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos is dependent now only on a medical.
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