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Southampton’s replacement for Luke Shaw: Ryan Bertrand, on loan

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One spot down; two to go, for now. With rumors José Fonte may yet move from Southampton, Ronald Koeman may have more work than that to rebuild Saints’ back line. Today, however, the acquisition of Ryan Bertrand moves last year’s eighth place finishers one step closer to being ready for its season opener.

The news was announced today on the club’s website, with Chelsea agreeing to send the 24-year-old defender on his seventh loan. The year-long deal gives Southampton another season to identify a long-term replacement for the departed Luke Shaw, while the Blues find a place to get their left back playing time while Felipe Luís and César Azpilicueta hold down the position at the parent club.

Koeman, from Southampton’s web site:

“He is a top player who will bring a lot of quality to the team. He has experience at the highest level and is an exciting, attacking player, which is what I like to see in my full-backs.

“I’ve been very impressed with how Matt Targett is doing in pre-season, but he is still young and developing, which I am sure he will continue to do over the coming seasons.

“Left-back is an important position in the team because it is quite specialised in terms of the attributes needed to play there, so it is nice to get this signing completed because it gives us some stability.”

For Bertrand, it’s his second loan spell this year, having joined Aston Villa in January for the second half of the 2013-14 Premier League season. The move to Birmingham was his first loan since 2010, when he spent five months at Nottingham Forest. The two-time England international has also played with Bournemouth, Oldham Athletic, Norwich City, and Reading since joining Chelsea in July 2005.

According to Reuters, the loan deal includes a $17 million option to buy, should Saints want to purchase the player at the end of the season.

From Bertrand, again on Southampton’s web site:

“For me personally, this is another chance to play and a chance to join a fantastic club that’s moving in the right direction.

“With the set-up the club’s got, the manager it has coming in and the ethos it has, I thought this was a perfect match.

“The manager’s name speaks for itself, so to play under somebody like that will be good for me. His ethos and the way he plays matches my game.

“I had a lot of options and a lot of interest but, having met the people and spoken to the manager and seen what the club is about, in my mind this was the perfect decision.

It’s a reminder that, despite this summer’s fire sale, Southampton still have a few things going for the club. Its reputation for developing players is as good as any club in England, while the regard Koeman carries from his experience with Ajax, PSV, Barcelona, and the Dutch national team can make a difference while convincing young players to spend time on the south coast.

Those qualities will have to be leveraged to the fullest to restock Southampton’s depleted squad, but beginning with Bertrand’s loan, Saints have taken step one. Unfortunately, there are a number of steps to go.

Premier League AT HALF: Arsenal fights back, Hull City on top

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal (L) and Francis Coquelin of Arsenal (R) celebrate after Theo Walcott of Arsenal (not pictured) scored Arsenals first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City

Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.

Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth

The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.

But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.

Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace

Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a

Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland

Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.

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Koeman: “Nervous” Everton has a problem after another loss

WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Ronald Koeman manager of Everton arrives prior to the Premier League match between Watford and Everton at Vicarage Road on December 10, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
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One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.

Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.

The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.

Here’s Koeman:

“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”

A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?

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VIDEO: Hendrick scores incredible volley from distance

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Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.

Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.

[ STREAM: Every PL game online ] 

A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.

Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.

Click play on the video above to watch it.

Messi’s latest goal dares you to count the touches (video)

PAMPLONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 10:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between CA Osasuna and FC Barcelona at Sadar stadium on December 10, 2016 in Pamplona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.

So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.

[ MORE: Watford 3-2 Everton ]

On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.

That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.

Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.

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