Burnley boss Sean Dyche: 'Popey has earned the right to be seen as a top player!'
Unfortunately, his dreams of landing that coveted accolade alongside Manchester City's Ederson were shattered when Yves Bissouma netted his first ever Premier League goal on the final day of last season.
And Aaron Connolly added to the agony when scoring the Seagulls' second to wrap up the points for the visitors after the break.
Pope, who closed the season with 15 clean sheets, has been in tremendous form again this term and has kept the opposition out on seven occasions.
He's some way behind City's Brazilian stopper this time around, but the England international is still getting plenty of plaudits.
“It’s always helpful to have your best players at their very best," said Dyche.
“In Popey’s case he’s earned the right to be seen as a top player by people who know the game.
"His performances have been excellent, and that’s certainly being recognised more outside the club now."
Pope had the best save success rate (78.4%) in the top flight prior to Burnley's defeat at the hands of the league leaders on Wednesday.
And he's the only goalkeeper in the five major European leagues that has saved 10 expected goals this term.
Dyche said: “Some of what he does has maybe been over-egged – it’s his job and he’s very good at it. Sometimes people forget that.
"He’s made the saves you’d expect him to make - but at the same time he has made some outstanding saves too."
An uncharacteristic error from Pope allowed Gabriel Jesus to give Pep Guardiola's side the lead midweek as he palmed Bernardo Silva's effort into his path.
But Dyche feels his side should have prevented the visitors from getting into that position in the first instance.
He said: "It was struck from a short distance and it came at him very fast. I think goalkeepers sometimes get caught in two minds - whether to parry or whether to catch.
"He's ended up parrying the ball into the wrong zone. He's top class, he's made some massive saves lately.
"Sometimes they get away from you, but we should have prevented that in the first place."