Aston Villa might enjoy a £12 million windfall if they beat Manchester City and finish in the top half of the Premier League table this weekend.
Under Steven Gerrard, Villa would like to play an expansive game, but they are better when forced to simplify their approach with a deeper shape and counterattacking strategy.
Their ability to sit 11 men behind the ball and shuffle across, forcing City into slow and sideways possession, is crucial to ratcheting up nerves and producing games like the draws against Southampton and Crystal Palace.
While Steven Gerrard’s side will play a part in the team being crowned Premier League champions on Sunday, Villa has enough internal motivation to finish in the top half without thinking about aiding their manager’s old side.
If Pep Guardiola’s side loses and the four teams directly above them lose, the Midlands outfit could still finish in a respectable 10th place following a disappointing season.
Nobody seems to believe there will be a surprise on Sunday – and that Manchester City will cruise to their fourth Premier League title in five years.
True, Man City are heavy favorites to beat an Aston Villa side that has nothing to play for and is in poor form, but Pep Guardiola’s team has not lost consecutive league games all season.
A top-half finish could make summer recruitment a little easier, but the financial benefits are important as well. According to the Mirror, Villa may receive a £12 million windfall if results go their way and they finish the season in 10th place.
Clubs can receive up to £3 million for each place in the Premier League table, which might help Villa strengthen in the summer as Gerrard attempts to lead Villa to a European push next season.
Despite the possibility of helping Liverpool win the Premier League title, Gerrard has stated that the club’s match against City is unimportant.