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Premier League: Three players to scrutinise closely over Christmas

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Three games in the space of six days is enough to give every Premier League manager a selection nightmare over the Christmas period, but on the flip side it does provide stars who have sat on the periphery the season a huge chance to make a big impact in a crucial run of festive fixtures.

Manchester United and Arsenal in particular have genuine grievances when it comes to a horrendous run of injuries so far this season, imagine how Arsene Wenger and Louis van Gaal feel about how the impending fixture pile-up will affect their stricken squads in the next fortnight.

Wenger and Van Gaal both have huge positives that they can point towards amongst all the doom and gloom though, while Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho also needs to see a marked improvement from arguably his most important player as a matter of urgency.

Before Premier League pandemonium kicks off on Boxing Day we have decided to profile three players at the very highest level who deserve your attention, both in terms of form and fitness as question marks continue to cloud their respective campaigns.

Theo Walcott

Arsenal's flying forward made a welcome return to the matchday squad at Anfield last weekend, finally over the groin problem which proved yet another setback in a horrible 2014.

Walcott still has time to see a dreadful year off in style though, particularly if he can persuade Wenger that he's ready and able to play an active part in matches the Gunners simply have to win before their season turns into another mad dash to make up ground in the race to finish fourth.

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Will Wenger bite the bullet?

Friday's home fixture against Queens Park Rangers looks like the perfect opportunity to give Walcott his first start since suffering that cruciate ligament injury against Tottenham Hotspur, if the 25-year-old is up to the task of playing at least an hour.

QPR have been nothing short of shocking on the road this season and easily represent the best match to get Walcott in the groove over Christmas, while also providing the chance to rest one of his overworked forwards ahead of more testing trips to West Ham United and Southampton, sides both above Arsenal in the table as things stand.

Radamel Falcao

Man United fans finally got to see Radamel Falcao start and score against Aston Villa last weekend, which makes the Colombian marksman's role in the next fortnight even more intriguing.

Falcao needs to use the momentum from that performance to kick on and prove he deserves a regular spot in the starting XI, let alone a permanent move to the Theatre of Dreams.

Quick-fire fixtures Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Stoke City give Falcao the perfect chance to prove he's match fit and capable of playing more than once a week, boxes he simply has to tick before Van Gaal can even consider sanctioning a deal next summer.

The 28-year-old looked sharp against Villa and presents a truly awesome prospect if able to play alongside Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney regularly, but it's ultimately up to him to make it happen and prove he's worth a quite astronomical outlay.

Diego Costa

Chelsea's star striker was out of sorts against Stoke City, which thankfully given a quite magnificent Blues performance at the Britannia Stadium didn't matter too much in the grand scheme of things.

Costa's standards have dropped a little in recent weeks compared to a magnificent start to the season, which was evident in a pair of poor finishes from close range against Stoke.

The Brazilian-born marksman could do with getting back on the goal trail and quick, particularly against more testing opposition in West Ham United, Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur over the next week.

Beyond simply picking up points over Christmas the 26-year-old also needs to show he can play three times a week and not show any signs of injury or fatigue, particularly given Jose Mourinho's ambitious plans to chase four trophies in the second half of the season.

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Topics:
Theo Walcott
Diego Costa
Chelsea
Manchester United
Arsenal
Premier League
Football

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