This Sunday, the English Premier League will play its last round of games for the 2017/18 season. It’s been yet another breathtaking season with all the drama and excitement that the league has been known to deliver. Amazing talent is on display every year in what is widely considered to be the most competitive league in Europe. Although Spain, Germany and Italy may have some of the best teams in the world, the English league is the most difficult league to win. This season, one team has stood a whole head above the rest: Manchester City.
Before I start discussing why Manchester City’s dominance was so remarkable, let’s do a bit of homework on the league itself. There are 20 teams in the league. Every team plays every other team twice, both home and away; a total of 38 games. A win is worth three points, a tie is worth one and a loss is worth nothing.
Here’s why Manchester City’s season was so astonishing: if they win their final game of the season on Sunday, they will finish the season with 100 points and a record of 32 wins, 4 ties, and 2 losses. In their second to last game of the season, on Wednesday evening, they beat Brighton & Hove Albion FC to bring their points total to 97 from 94. In doing so, they broke three records.
They scored the most goals in a Premier League season (105), they won the most games in a PL season (31), and they acquired the most points in a PL season (97). The previous records were all held by Chelsea FC, but set in different seasons. The goals record was set by Chelsea in the 2009/10 season with 103. The previous wins record was from just last season when Chelsea won 30 games. In 2004/05, Chelsea set the points record with 94. In one game City smashed all three records with one game to spare.
So! My next question is: Does that mean that Manchester City is the best team in Premier League history?
My personal response to this question is: It’s hard to say No, but it’s just as hard to say Yes.
Many seasoned soccer experts would argue that to be considered the best team in PL history isn’t just about what you accomplish in the league. For those who don’t know, Premier League teams compete in several competitions that take place during the season. There’s The FA Cup, The League Cup, and for the elite teams, The Champions League or The Europa League. Along with their league success, Manchester City also won The League Cup but were eliminated from The FA Cup and The Champions League in disappointing fashion.
So despite winning the league and setting all these records, it’s difficult to say that they are the best ever if they haven’t been dominant in other competitions at the same time (most importantly, the Champions League). The team that set the bar at this high level was Manchester United of 1998/99. They won the Premier League, they won the FA Cup and they won the Champions League. But…they only amassed 79 points, won 22 games, and scored 80 goals in the league. The other team to throw their hat into the conversation for the best team in PL history is Arsenal FC from the 2003/04 season. Although they only had 90 points at the end of the season, they didn’t lose a single game. An absolutely amazing feat to accomplish in such a league where on any given day, the team at the very top can lose to the team at the very bottom.
But this season, Manchester City dazzled us with beautiful, free-flowing soccer. Coach Pep Guardiola made corrections from last season and had his team playing deadly, attacking soccer that was impossible to look away from every weekend. He truly got the best out of his players and it showed when it came time for the awards. Kevin De Bruyne narrowly missed out on the PL Player of the Season to Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah but on the PL team of the season, five of the starting 11 were from Manchester City.
If Liverpool can beat Real Madrid in the Champions League final this season, they will be crowned as the best team in Europe but it would be impossible to say that they were even the best team in England when they finished 25 points behind City. If you want to know more about who might win this season, then you can click here for more information.
It’s going to be a tough act to follow and it may be many years before we see a team that enters the conversation for the best team in Premier League history. Like most debates in soccer, it’s all so subjective and open to opinion, but one thing is for certain: the 2017/18 Manchester City team is one of the best ever.