May 12, 2018 / 5:42 PM / 2 months ago

Soccer: Early Euro exit clouds Man City claims to greatness

LONDON (Reuters) - Manchester City could become the first side in English top-flight history to reach the 100-point mark with victory at Southampton on Sunday, but their early Champions League exit must be considered when measuring their success this season.

There are few superlatives left to describe City’s Premier League feats in 2017-18.

They have broken the records for the most goals scored in a Premier League season, most points garnered, consecutive wins and most victories overall.

Barring a heavy loss at Southampton, they will also finish with the best goal difference in Premier League history, and another win would break the record for away victories and ensure they finish with the greatest points advantage over the runners-up.

“I don’t think there is any doubt about that (City the greatest Premier League side ever),” the Premier League’s all-time top goalscorer Alan Shearer said.

“There are top players in that team, with hunger and desire to put in a performance week in, week out.”

However, breaking domestic records is only one way of measuring success.

For all their Premier League domination and League Cup triumph, City failed to get past the Champions League quarter-finals and exited the FA Cup in fifth round, losing to third-tier Wigan Athletic.

City’s relentless late season form has been made easier by their lack of other distractions.

Of the six teams who achieved more than 90 points in a Premier League season, only Chelsea in 2004-05 got further than the quarter-final stage of the Champions League in their title-winning campaign.

A glance at Liverpool’s league form as they have progressed to the Champions League final shows how much knockout competition can take its toll.

Juergen Klopp’s side have picked up five points from four league games since their Champions League quarter-final victory over City, while Guardiola’s team have taken 13 points in the same period from five league matches.

“I maintain my opinion that consistency is the most important thing and in the Premier League we were the best,” City manager Pep Guardiola said.

The consistency City have shown this season has been remarkable, but until they have enjoyed domestic glory alongside Champions League success, as Manchester United did in 1999 and 2008, any claims of true greatness will come with a caveat.

Reporting by Peter Hall, editing by Ed Osmond

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