Alan Pardew says Leicester City would be “worthy champions” after winning 1-0 at Selhurst Park to heap more misery on Crystal Palace.
Palace remain the only side in all four English divisions yet to win a league game in 2016 after Riyad Mahrez’s first-half goal settled the game in the Premier League leaders’ favour.
Claudio Ranieri’s men are now eight points clear of Tottenham, who host AFC Bournemouth on Sunday.
“It’s frustrating we haven’t got anything from the game. They showed first half why they’re top,” Palace boss Pardew said at his post-match news conference.
“They’re very strong and disciplined defensively. We couldn’t create anything and they deserved the lead at half-time.
“Second half we were a lot better and they started to look a bit edgy. We should have forced something.
“But they’ve done a great job, from the chairman down to the kit man. Good luck to them.
“They’d be worthy champions.”
Palace’s last league win came at Stoke City on December 19, a run that has seen the London club plummet down the table.
Pardew’s side are now eight points above third-from-bottom Sunderland with the Wearsiders having a game in hand.
Former Newcastle United boss Pardew conceded their next home game, against fellow strugglers Norwich City, could prove key.
“Norwich will be an important game for us. We know we’re involved in that, but we have enough quality in our dressing room to get out,” he added.
“We knew [facing Leicester] would be difficult. I thought we played a fairly measured game second half, which is a good sign.
“We had more of that Crystal Palace threat in the second half and that’s what will get us out of this.”