English Premier League: 5 Players to Watch on Boxing Day

Stefan GouyetAnalyst IDecember 26, 2012

English Premier League: 5 Players to Watch on Boxing Day

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    The English Premier League is back in action on Boxing Day.

    It is now Round 19 of the 2012-13 campaign, marking the end of the first half of the season. Eighteen of the 20 teams will play, with the Arsenal-West Ham match postponed because of a possible Tube strike.

    Here's a list of five players to watch on Wednesday.

Adam Le Fondre (Reading)

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    On Wednesday, Reading take on Swansea City at the Madejski Stadium. The Royals are currently bottom of the Premier League table, but put in a good performance against Manchester City on Saturday and were unfortunate to lose the match.

    Swansea City are in 11th place, 15 points above Reading, and are coming off a superb draw against Manchester United. Nonetheless, Reading will see their match against the Welsh side as a must-win encounter.

    Adam Le Fondre was an unused substitute against City at the weekend, but he is expected to start against Swansea. The Englishman is Reading's top scorer this season, with five goals. 

    All five of Le Fondre's goals have come against current top 10 teams and Brian McDermott will need his striker to start scoring in more winnable matches. 

Leon Osman (Everton)

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    While Everton have not lost a league match since November 17, Wigan Athletic have not won a game since November 24.

    The two sides play each other on Boxing Day in what could be a big win for the Merseyside team. The Latics are in 18th place and have a goal difference of minus-15, while Everton are in fifth place with a goal difference of plus-eight.

    Against West Ham United on Saturday, Leon Osman was Everton's best player, and manager David Moyes will want the midfielder to perform as well on Wednesday.

    Star player Marouane Fellaini will be suspended for another two matches, so Osman's strong performances are very important for Everton.

Stewart Downing (Liverpool)

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    Stewart Downing was phenomenal against Fulham. The winger was easily man of the match, with his first league goal and assist for Liverpool.

    The Englishman has been a flop since leaving Aston Villa in July 2011, but on Saturday, showed fans why the Reds paid £20 million for him.

    Liverpool travel to Stoke City on Boxing Day, with the two teams currently tied on 25 points. Stoke are unbeaten at home and have conceded the least number of goals this season.

    It will be a hard game for Liverpool, but if Downing puts in a performance like he did against Fulham, Brendan Rodgers and his team will probably leave the Brittania with all three points. 

Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)

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    After two superb performances against Sunderland and Manchester City, Wayne Rooney didn't have a great game against Swansea City on Sunday. The striker made few contributions throughout the match and was eventually substituted.

    United take on Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Wednesday. If Rooney can score and link up with Robin Van Persie, the Red Devils will almost certainly win the fixture.

Fernando Torres (Chelsea)

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    Fernando Torres has looked very good since Rafael Benitez's appointment, with seven goals in his last six matches.

    When it comes to Torres, it's never clear whether his form will last. Nonetheless, Chelsea fans will be very happy with the Spaniard's recent performances. 

    The Blues have a difficult task on Boxing Day, traveling to Carrow Road to take on Norwich City.

    The Canaries lost to West Bromwich Albion over the weekend, ending Norwich's amazing 10-match unbeaten run in the league. 

    Chris Hughton has done a great job this season and has made it hard for teams to leave Carrow Road with a win. 

    Chelsea crushed Norwich when the teams met in October, but it will be a much harder task for the Blues this time around. Rafael Benitez will need Fernando Torres at his very best if Chelsea are going to win this match.