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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Who had the better season: Liverpool or Man City? Spurs or Man United?

Janusz Michallik and Alexis Nunes take a long look at how the Premier League top 6 shaped out this season.

They've all qualified for the Champions League but in contrasting ways. Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City or Manchester United: Who had the better season?

Each side's fans will have a case for why their team enjoyed the best 2016-17 behind Chelsea. Tottenham finished second, while Manchester United finished sixth and won two trophies. Elsewhere, Liverpool and Manchester City finished in the top four. 

We have pitted Tottenham and Manchester United together to settle the age old debate about finishing in the top four vs. finishing outside but winning silverware. In the other battle, neither side won anything -- it's down to you to choose who performed better out of Liverpool and Manchester City.

Tottenham or Manchester United?

Dan Kilpatrick, Tottenham correspondent: Taking the season in isolation, United were the more successful, but remember the words of Bill Nicholson: "It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low."

Spurs are in no position to scorn silverware but while Jose Mourinho targeted the low-hanging fruit of the League Cup and Europa League, those competitions ranked fourth and third, respectively, in Pochettino's priorities. Tottenham aimed for the league title.

Mourinho's pragmatism paid off but he finished the season a place lower than his predecessor and kissing a trophy he had previously derided; United fans were entitled to expect more from the most expensively assembled squad in history.

Spurs, by contrast, reached new heights in the Premier League, playing scintillating football (light years ahead of United's best) and they were only denied the title and an FA Cup final by a record-breaking and ruthless Chelsea team.

Their season, while trophyless, was far more enjoyable than United's and, given the two clubs' resources and the preseason expectation, it was more impressive, too.

Rob Dawson, Manchester United correspondent: Tottenham finished comfortably ahead of United in the league, but Mourinho and executive vice chairman Ed Woodward will feel they have had the better season.

United are in the business of winning trophies, and they have won two this season -- three if, like Mourinho, you count the Community Shield. United wanted to be back in the Champions League, that much is clear. But if at the start of the season you had offered Woodward and Mourinho second place in the league and no trophy, like Tottenham, they would not have taken it.

In fact, both would have accepted finishing 10th -- maybe even lower -- if it meant winning two trophies. That's how much winning silverware matters at Old Trafford. The Europa League is also a competition United have never won, which adds to its importance. Tottenham might have had a good season by their standards, but United have had a better one. You will not be able to convince Mourinho and Woodward otherwise.

Liverpool or Manchester City?

Glenn Price, Liverpool correspondent: After finishing fourth, you have to consider Liverpool's season a success, while conceding City have been a little underwhelming, even if they did finish one spot above Jurgen Klopp's side.

Indeed, Champions League qualification would have appeared to be the bare minimum when Liverpool were making an unlikely push for the Premier League title, but a top four finish certainty represents progress under Klopp. Liverpool were able to finish fourth in a competitive league, despite rivals having deeper pockets and squad depth.

Injuries and absences to key players consistently plagued Liverpool's season, but they still pushed City right until the final day for third place. Klopp considered City to be "the most difficult team to play" this season, so he could also consider it a small feat to have been unbeaten against Pep Guardiola's team this term -- beating them 1-0 on New Year's Eve before playing out an entertaining draw in March.

Jonathan Smith, Manchester City correspondent: In the simplest of terms, Manchester City had the better season by finishing one place above Liverpool in the Premier League.

But it's also worth remembering that it was also done while City had a busy European schedule -- playing nine more games throughout the season. While City were facing the likes of Barcelona and Monaco in the Champions League, Liverpool had a free week to prepare for each Premier League fixture. Next season, both sides will be in the same boat.

There's some disappointment that Guardiola failed to maintain an expected title challenge, but there is optimism at the emergence of exciting young attacking talents Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling. But City are still getting to terms with the Catalan's tactics, although the fact they dominated possession in every game shows they are close to maximising his philosophy.

Where Liverpool have the edge was their ability to win the big games. Guardiola's biggest task is to turn around a poor record against their rivals while Klopp would appear to have a simpler mission of making his side capable of regularly beating teams in the lower half of the table.

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