By George Overhill

10th Mar, 2022 | 12:10pm

Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch has a plan for Aston Villa's Philippe Coutinho

Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch is focused on the treat that Philippe Coutinho will pose ahead of the clash with Aston Villa.

The Brazilian has been in strong form since his surprise loan move from Barcelona in January, and the Whites’ American boss has been developing a plan of how to deal with him.

United are in desperate need of points in their battle against relegation, having not won for nearly two months, with the Birmingham side visiting Elland Road tonight (Thursday 10 March).

On the subject of the visitor’s superstar Marsch said, via Birmingham Live: “Steven Gerrard is right, Coutinho is a quality player.

“For Villa to get their hands on him is a game-changer. We discussed this will be a focus of how we address the game.

“It’s always important to identify the strengths of a team and what makes a difference.

“It’ll be important to make it tight for him, not to give him much room, to be aggressive with him.”

Improved form

The wild 3-3 draw at Villa Park was probably the last good performance for Marcelo Bielsa.

Despite its chaotic nature, it looked like the team would have enough to pick up the points required to move away from danger at the time.

The subsequent string of thrashings cost the Argentine his job, with the Whites far too open and conceding so many goals.

With the change of tactics under the new man the team looked much tighter in the 1-0 loss at Leicester.

So, based on the problems United were able to cause Gerrard’s side at the beginning of last month, expectations are high that a result is possible tonight.

Keeping Coutinho in check will be crucial to that, as he scored the first and assisted the other two of Villa’s goals in the reverse fixture.

Fans will have to hope that a few days on the training ground have been enough for Marsch’s plan to take effect.

In other Leeds United news, the manager has found a star who is heavily focused on survival at Thorp Arch.