Great news for Newcastle as Southampton’s top player ruled out, Morgan Schneiderlin missing the match this afternoon at St. James’ Park.

The quality French midfielder has been a real driving force for the Saints this season and is easily their top rated player over the course of the season so far, using the industry leader whoscored rating system (used by numerous sections of the football industry; including media, bookmakers and clubs themselves).

morgan schneiderlinIt has paid dividends for Ronald Koeman and his team, having fought to keep Schneiderlin as the likes of Shaw and Lallana left in big money moves.

The Southampton manager has bemoaned the lack of a winter break and the fact that the FA Cup has replays instead of decided in the first instance.

Against Ipswich midweek, another blow saw Schneiderlin’s midfield partner Victor Wanyama forced off through injury and he will also miss the Newcastle match – Wanyama is rated sixth best player for Southampton so far.

Newcastle were linked with Wanyama when he was at Celtic and another player that United were supposedly interested in this summer was Toby Alderweireld. He has been outstanding since his loan move and features at seventh best in their player ratings this season.

The question is, can Newcastle take advantage of Southampton’s missing key players – the hope must be that Moussa Sissoko can be the most influential player on the park and take advantage of the absence of the visiting team’s midfield duo.

Maya Yoshida is missing due to Asian Cup duty and Sadio Mane is away at the African Cup of Nations, so while Newcastle can complain about missing players, it looks like a level playing field this afternoon.

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