LIVERPOOL VS LEICESTER CITYLIVERPOOL (4-3-3)MIGNOLET, CLYNE, SKRTEL, SAKHO, MORENO, HENDERSON, LUCAS, CAN, LALLANA, FIRMINO, COUTINHOLEICESTER (4-4-2)VARDY, OKAZAKI, MAHREZ, KING, KANTE, ALBRIGHTON, DE LAET, FUCHS, MORGAN, SIMPSON, SCHMEICHELLeicester City’s remarkable success story continues amid growing belief that they could actually win the Barclays Premier League title. The 3-2 win at Everton last Saturday extended their unbeaten league run to 10 games, winning eight.The victory at Goodison Park took Leicester five points clear at the top of the Premier League. Though Arsenal reduced that lead to two points following their 2-1 win over Manchester City at the Emirates on Monday, Leicester still go into the Christmas period top of the tree.And past history suggests a happy new year lies ahead for the Foxes; of the past 23 Premier League champions, 11 were top at Christmas, while all but one – Aston Villa in 1999 – finished the season in the top four, suggesting Champions League football beckons for the King Power Stadium.Liverpool, beaten 2-0 by Watford at Vicarage Road last Sunday, have gone three league games without a win, losing two. Leicester have failed to win in their last four league visits to Anfield, drawing last season and losing the previous three. Previously, Leicester had won three in a row at Liverpool.At Goodison, Riyad Mahrez netted two penalties and now has seven goals in nine Premier League appearances in the month of December, including 2015.Liverpool are still missing Joseph Gomez, Danny Ings and Daniel Sturridge and give tests to Dejan Lovren, James Milner and Simon Mignloet, who all missed the defeat at Watford. Leicester welcome back Robert Huth after suspension and test Danny Drinkwater and Jamie Vardy.
LONDON (AP):Arsenal needed a flawless finish to the English Premier League season to stand a realistic chance of reeling in surprise leaders Leicester City.Thanks to West Ham striker Andy Carroll, that won’t be happening.Carroll scored an eighth-minute hat-trick as West Ham came from two goals behind and drew 3-3 with Arsenal in a wild match at Upton Park that summed up the visitors’ season a strong start, a collapse and then a recovery that was too little, too late.Surely, only second-placed Tottenham can stop Leicester now.Arsenal are 10 points behind the leaders and three adrift of Spurs, with the top two in action today.Arsenal are not yet assured of securing a top-four place and Champions League football for next season, with Manchester City only two points back in fourth after rallying to a 2-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion, thanks to Samir Nasri’s second-half winner. City played a weakened team ahead of the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain, which is tied 2-2 after the first leg on Wednesday.Manchester United are four points behind City, with their game in hand coming against Tottenham today.Confirmation of Aston Villa’s inevitable relegation was delayed at least another week, despite the last-place team losing 2-1 at home to Bournemouth for a 23rd defeat in 33 league matches this season. Fourth-to-last Norwich could have relegated Villa by picking up a point at Crystal Palace, but lost 1-0.It was Palace’s first win since December 19, virtually preserving their Premier League status for another season.Newcastle look likely to be joining Villa in the second tier after losing 3-1 at Southampton to stay six points behind Norwich, with only six matches left.”It’s important that everybody continues to believe,” said Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez, who is still to earn a victory in four matches since taking over. “The anxiety is killing us sometimes.”Swansea beat Chelsea 1-0 thanks to Gylfi Sigurdsson’s 25th-minute goal, while Watford and Everton drew 1-1 in a match between two FA Cup semi-finalists.Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez put Arsenal 2-0 ahead against West Ham, both scoring off passes from young Nigerian Alex Iwobi, before Carroll single-handedly brought the home side back into the game.POWERFUL HEADERStaking his claim for a place in England’s squad for the European Championship, the tall striker planted home a powerful header in the 44th, equalised with a deflected volley in first-half injury time, then rose above Arsenal’s defence to complete his hat-trick in the 52nd.Arsenal defender Laurent Koscielny scored a 70th-minute equaliser, but a point isn’t enough at this stage in the title race.”We’ve made it far more difficult for ourselves to have a chance to win the championship,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “We have to keep going and hope. You never know what can happen.”City trimmed the gap to Arsenal after recovering from going behind to Stephane Sessegnon’s goal in the sixth minute.Sessegnon then brought down Aleksandar Kolarov to allow Sergio Aguero to score from a penalty and Nasri scored the winner for City from close range in the 66th.
SPANISH TOWN, Jamaica: Defending champions Barbados got their defence off to a winning start at the 2015 CAZOVA Under-19 Boys’ Volleyball Championships with a hard fought 3-1 victory over host country Jamaica at the G.C. Foster College in Spanish Town, St Catherine, on Thursday. Barbados won 25-22, 14-25, 25-23, 25-22 in a close game against hosts Jamaica. Offensive hitter Brandon Callender with 15 spikes was among the standouts for the defending champions, who were marginally more consistent than the home team, winning 92 points overall to Jamaica’s 89. For Jamaica, middle blocker Javarie James and Jovan Thomas each with eight spikes and Shavar James helped keep Jamaica close, but were unable to get their team over the hump. In the day’s opening encounter, Trinidad and Tobago withstood a stern challenge from newcomers Haiti to prevail 25-22, 20-25, 25-22, 25-19. Tyrique Nicolas racked up 15 spikes from 30 attempts, while Rashaun White chipped in with eight as the Trinidadians won a see-saw battle against the Haitians. “We took a little too long to adjust to Haiti’s style and the size of the court,” said winning coach Gideon Dickson, who explained that his team prepared in a much smaller venue to the expansive auditorium, which took some getting used to. Dickson added: “It was good to get the win. It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but we are thankful nonetheless.” He also lauded a number of his players. “Our captain Rashaun had an outstanding game. Our opposite player Tyrique Nicolas had a good game, but he could have done a little more. The setter, who is really the engine of the team, made too many unforced errors in the first part of the game. He was setting good balls at times, but some of the balls were too tight. So it didn’t give our attackers an opportunity to really go at them.” He believes the team will improve as the tournament progresses. Haitian coach Adolphe Rudolph said the team had problems receiving and attacking, declaring that he had already identified the problems and will make the necessary adjustments for the next game. He said he will also try to motivate the team by reminding the players that they are doing this for their country.
But like any other market-driven activity, those who are not top performers will have many sad stories to tell. The harsh reality is that some of these athletes need to man up by either lifting their performance levels, or facing the same reality that confronts a lot of people every day, the reality of surviving in the real world. My choice of economic assistance to the sport would be at the developmental level, at the preparatory and primary level and even the crucial Boys and Girls’ Championships level. The aim must be to ensure that the systems we currently have in place continue to produce top athletes for many generations to come. Infrastructural, medical and other support facilities apart, additionally, I would opt for a sprint academy and or a coaching academy. These are what would inspire my tears and cries for help. I say again without apology, Jamaica has a track and field programme that works; we were second in the world at the just-concluded World Championships for God’s sake. Let us preserve this legacy by investing in development while continuing to raise the bar for excellence. Unfortunately, in that quest for excellence, some will fall by the wayside. And those who fall understandably will cry. Those are the cries we are hearing now. harsh reality Emotional, irratio-nal, angry and in total denial are what lots of Jamaicans seem to become whenever anyone dares to question or criticise their sporting heroes, whether those criticisms are merited or not. It hit home to me first when I was critical of sprinter Asafa Powell for repeatedly failing to perform to his full potential on the big occasion. Even with the irrefutable facts of Powell’s failures staring them squarely in the face, I was labelled “bad-minded”, “grudgeful”, “wicked” and more by the emotional clan for daring to speak the truth. Fast-forward to my recent prediction that the American Justin Gatlin would beat Usain Bolt in the shorter sprint at the recently concluded IAAF World Championships. This was not a pie-in-the-sky prediction, the hard-cold facts were pointing to the imperious form of Gatlin relative to Bolt’s struggles for fitness and form. But again, the emotional daggers were drawn, this time I was the “traitor”, the “anti-Bolt”, the “anti-Jamaican”, who committed treason. Fast-forward further to here and now and the raging debate as to the merits and affordability of Jamaica offering more financial assistance to our track and field athletes. I dared again to swim against the emotional tide, by first asking the questions how much, if any, should merely being national representatives entitle our athletes to? Can Jamaica afford to give them what they think they are entitled to? I ventured even further out of the box to forthrightly disagree that merely being national representatives should entitle athletes to more direct financial help than nurses, teachers, policemen and other civil servants. After all, athletics, like everything else, is a chosen field where the people who are good enough earn a very good living, while the ones who are not good enough will struggle. I happen not to agree that Jamaica owes our struggling athletes any more help than we owe any other of our struggling citizens. For that principled stance , the emotional half-wits have now branded me “stupid”, “crazy”, “hype”, “irrational”, “disgraceful” and “classless”. Incapable of challenging the message, they have resorted to attacking the messenger. While the Government has announced the setting up of an assistance programme for the athletes, starting with the $40 million diverted from the planned welcome-home celebrations, I remain resolute and undaunted by all the platitudinous rantings. Top achievers such as Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Asafa Powell and others are among our top money earners in sports and, indeed, in Jamaica, more than ample proof that the sport rewards its top performers.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP):Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews gave his backing yesterday to spin bowler Tharindu Kaushal despite a ban for one of his bowling actions, raising the prospect of him being selected for the upcoming Test series against the West Indies.The International Cricket Council (ICC) has banned Kaushal’s way of bowling a “doosra” – a ball delivered with an off spinner’s action, but which spins away from a right-handed batsman – because it exceeds the level of allowed elbow flexion. However, the ICC cleared the 22-year-old Kaushal to bowl his stock ball, the off spin.Mathews said that he and the team management hoped to rectify Kaushal’s doosra action and have it cleared as well. The two-Test series between the two sides starts on October 14.”We strongly believe that Tharindu Kaushal is a very valuable player in the side. There is no problem with his off spin and we hope to rectify his doosra and have it cleared as well,” Mathews told a news conference. “We have a lot of trust in him.”Both teams are in transition after the retirement of many experienced players.
Mile Gully, Ricam lead Manchester Major League Following the completion of the first half of the first round, Mile Gully and Ricam are the respective zone leaders of the Magnum/Captain’s Bakery Major League. Mile Gully’s 2-0 win over Greenvale pivoted them to 13 points from five games to head Zone One ahead of defending champions Hillstars, who have 12. Mile Gully had to fight off relegation in their penultimate match last season. However, their resurgence this season has been remarkable and included the highlight of the competition so far – a 1-0 win over Hillstars in the fourth round. That win spoilt Hillstars’ unbeaten record, which dates back to the 2014 season. Ricam leads Zone Two with 13 points after five matches, which includes four wins and a draw against Alligator Pond. They completed the pre-Christmas round with a 6-0 win over Land Settlement. Christopher Dyer netted a hat-trick, the third time the feat had been achieved since the start of the competition last month. Downs are second with 12 points, having lost to Ricam. The competition takes a break until Saturday, January 2. Hillstars, Ricam to contest Manchester KO finals The first finals of the 2015-16 Manchester FA season will be contested next Tuesday when Hillstars and Ricam meet in the Brumalia Hardware-sponsored Knock-out Cup. Venue will be Brooks Park, starting at 2:45 p.m. Both teams earned the right following convincing semi-finals performances. Hillstars recorded a 3-1 win over Old England, while defending champions Porus were brushed aside 6-0 by Ricam. That result has since sent Porus in a spin, so much so that they failed to show for their fifth-round Major League fixture against Alligator Pond. Ricam are in their best form, currently unbeaten and leading Zone Two of the Major League. Hillstars are in second position in another Major League zone, but are still fancied to win the KO finals despite a recent 0-1 upset loss to Mile Gully. Henriques wins ‘Rappa Pam Pam’ Despite being noticeably injured, Mandeville’s top shooter, Orville Henriques, held off the challenge of Jamaica Rifle Association’s Lennox Moulton to win the Manchester Rifle and Pistol Club’s Christmas extravaganza dubbed ‘Rappa Pam Pam’. Henriques was not dominant, but won four of the eight stages to finish on 476 points. Moulton, who earned top-four positions on five stages, ended at 84 per cent with 400 points. Female shooter Sue Ann Henriques, who won the last two stages, was edged into third with 384 points. The next three positions were separated by four percentage points. Ellsworth Dixon, who won the practice shoot held three days earlier, was fourth, followed by Evon Grant and Owen Campbell. Clarendon KO to break until December 31 The Noel Arscott-sponsored Clarendon Knock-out football competition will take a break until next Thursday, December 31, when the second round starts. The first round ended earlier this week, and included home-and-away matches. Jamalco, as well as the parish’s Premier League team, Humble Lion, will enter at the quarter-final stage. In results from the first round, York Town exited Sandy Bay, Bamboo Lane knocked out Kemps Hill, Springfield got rid of Spartan, Rock River made it past newcomers Bulls United from Alston, while Original Hazard took care of Little Brazil of Sheckles. In the most recent results, newcomers Anderson Drive knocked out Lionel Town 1-0 after the first leg ended 0-0, while Four Parks got the better of Treadlight by a similar margin. Jamalco top Clarendon FA awards Jamalco were deemed the best team, taking both the top competition and individual awards at the recent Clarendon Football Association 2015 awards ceremony held at Wembley Excellence Centre. Jamalco got the top incentive award for being Major League champions, Knock-out champions, in which they triumphed over Premier League team Humble Lion. They were also recognised for narrowly missing the cut to the Premier League. Jamalco secured the top individual awards, including Coach of the Year, which went to Ryan Johnson. The CFA also recognised its referees. The National award went to Kevin Morrison, while the parish’s Performance award went to Doween Tummings. Jason Jackson was handed the best assistant referee. Clarendon College was adjudged the best schoolboy team, while Lennon got the award for best female team. Battle on for semi-final spot Four teams – Pro Santos A, Express All Stars, Progressive Strikers, and Passagefort Strikers – will play off for the fourth and final semi-final spot in the South East St Catherine Netball League. The play-offs starts on Saturday, January 9, and is over three days. Based on form, Pro Santos A and Express All Stars should be in the two teams that will fight for that one spot. Meanwhile, Westchester netball team topped the standings with 16 points as the preliminary round comes to a close. Mega Angels, 13 points, occupy second spot. Pro Santos B (12 points) are third. The top three are given automatic berths to the semi-final. In a recent game, Mega Angels dismissed Pro Santos B 24-11. Free Jamaica Holiday Lacrosse camp A Jamaica Holiday Lacrosse Camp will take place at St George’s College (Emmett Park) in Kingston from Monday, December 28, to Thursday, December 31, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. each day. This camp is funded and staffed by players and coaches primarily from the United States. Equipment is provided on loan from the Jamaica Lacrosse Association and given to committed campers to keep at the end of the camp. The organisers of the camp said that “the game will be taught in a positive and encouraging environment. Water and light refreshments are provided, along with music, games, prizes, contests, awards, and lots of fun.” There will be high-school and university men’s and women’s divisions at this camp, as well as a new youth boy’s division (Primary School boys ages 8-13). Mid-season final for January 3 The York Pharmacy-sponsored Portmore Division Two mid-season final has been pushed back to Sunday, January 3, 2016. The match was originally scheduled for Sunday, December 27. The match, which features Cedar Grove and Braeton United, will take place at the Cedar Grove playing field starting at 3 p.m. Meanwhile, both Cedar Grove and Braeton United were beaten in recent matches. Cedar Grove suffered a shock 2-0 loss to Cumberland (five points), which won their first match in four tries, while Cedar Grove were losing for the first time. Braeton United remained on six points from three games as they were clipped 1-0 by Edgewater. In another game, Daytona (seven points) spanked Southborough 4-2.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP):Kane Richardson took five wickets, including four in his last four overs, as Australia held on to beat India by 25 runs yesterday and extend their lead to 4-0 with one match remaining in the limited-overs international series.Aaron Finch made 107 and David Warner returned from paternity leave to score 93 as Australia posted a total of 348-8 after winning the toss and batting.India were coasting at 277-1 in reply in the 38th over but lost their last nine wickets for 46 runs, with Richardson taking 4-16 in a match-turning spell and returning 5-68 for the innings.Shikhar Dhawan scored 126 and Virat Kohli added 106, the pair sharing a 212-run partnership for the second wicket and seemingly setting India on course for a victory until the dramatic late collapse ended with the visitors all out for 323 in 49.2 overs.The pattern of the series changed slightly yesterday; India batted first in each of the first three matches and lost.Finch reached his seventh ODI century from 97 balls. It was his first against India and his second at Manuka Oval in the Australian capital. Warner was the main aggressor in a blazing beginning by the Australian openers, who rushed to 40-0 after five overs. Warner was out in the 30th over when he chopped a ball from Ishant Sharma on to his middle stump.Finch was out when Australia were 221-2 in the 38th over after he and Mitchell Marsh had added only 34 runs in 8.4 overs. The opener reached 100 with a single from his 97th delivery, two years after his first century at Manuka Oval against South Africa. Finch was finally caught off Umesh Yadav, skying a pull shot to Ishant Sharma at mid-on.Finch’s power-hitting claimed one notable casualty. In the 17th over, his straight drive hit English umpire Richard Kettleborough on the right leg and Kettleborough was forced to retire from the match. He was replaced by Australia’s Paul Wilson.Steve Smith hit the ball powerfully from the outset and reached his 50 from 27 balls.The Australians lost 5-37 to lose momentum before Glenn Maxwell hit 41 from 20 balls with six fours and a six, falling to the last ball of the innings.The fifth match will be played in Sydney on Saturday. – AP
DOHA, Qatar:Reigning Olympic 110 metres hurdles champion Aries Merritt believes new kid on the bloc Omar McLeod could go on to become one of the greatest sprint hurdlers ever.McLeod burst on to the international scene last year with a series of impressive performances, ending with a sixth-place finish at the World Championships – his first senior finals.He started out 2016 by winning the 60m World Indoor title, a feat the American Merritt also achieved back in 2012. McLeod also got the better of a very strong field, which included Merritt, David Oliver, and Hansle Parchment to win at his first Diamond League outing in Doha with a world-leading 13.05 seconds.”There are a lot of new age athletes appearing as the old people start to transition out of the sport,” Merritt said. “There is always a new wave of athletes who come around and take their place, and so I think he has the potential to definitely be one of the greatest hurdlers of all time. He is very young, he is very talented, and he just needs to stay healthy and the sky is the limit for him.”At 22 years old, McLeod has a personal best in the 110m hurdles of 12.97 seconds – a time Merritt is impressed with given his age.”I wasn’t running his times when I was his age. I was running like 13.0, so he is already ahead of me at this point of his life,” the 30-year-old Merritt said.HISTORY MADEMcLeod has also impressed in the 100m this year after creating history last month when he dipped below 10 seconds to become the first athlete to run under 10 seconds for the 100m and sub-13 seconds for the 110m hurdles.But while even McLeod admitted to having been stunned by his 9.99 seconds 100m run, Merritt was not.”No, it didn’t catch me by surprise. He has always been quick, and at Arkansas (University), he ran well,” Merritt said. “I feel like sprinting is something that Jamaica does really well. Like, if you are a Jamaican, you are going to be a fast sprinter; it is just in your blood.”Merritt believes the men’s sprint hurdles is as competitive as it has ever been with as many as eight men technically able to run 12.9 seconds. But it is the development of McLeod and 24-year-old Hansle Parchment he will be watching with keen interest.”The sky is definitely the limit for Omar and Hansle. They are both very young; they have both run under 13 seconds way sooner than I did,” Merritt reiterated. “He (McLeod) is not the ideal size for a hurdler, so to speak. Parchment is definitely the ideal size, and so it will be really interesting to see which one of them develops the best in the long run.”As long as Omar is fast, he will always be a good hurdler because the shorter you are, the faster you have to be, and the taller you are, the more technical you have to be.”email@example.com
Despite his team’s annihilation of corporate area heavy-hitters Excelsior High, Clarendon College (CC) coach Paul ‘Tegat’ Davis does not believe his team is the favourite for the ISSA-FLOW Super Cup title.Davis, who led his team to a resounding 7-1 demolition of Excelsior to secure a spot in the semi-finals, believes the other teams in the final four have just as much chance to lift the title at the end of the competition.”CC are not favourites. (We are) just coming to play some football and win,” Davis said.The 2014 daCosta Cup champions were merciless in their contest at Sabina Park on Saturday in what was one of the most one-sided games in the history of the young competition.The result sets up a semi-final clash this Saturday against fellow daCosta Cup heavyweights Cornwall College, while Wolmer’s Boys, which clipped Kingston College 1-0, will play St Elizabeth Technical, who got the better of Bridgeport, 2-0.Cornwall College bettered Rusea’s, 4-3, on penalties after a 1-1 regulation and extra-time scoreline in their clash at the Catherine Hall Stadium.”Best win of the season? Yeah, I would say yes, this is our best performance, (but) every team is favourite. We are just coming to play some football, and win,” Davis told The Gleaner, while noting he was not surprised by the margin of victory.”To be honest, we could see it in training. We came to Kingston (on Friday) and the focus was (really high),” he outlined.STUDYING EACH OTHER”There was no doubt about today (Saturday). They (Excelsior) came to our game in the week and watched us play, but we watched them on TV. They are one of the better teams, they say, in Kingston, and when you play one of the better teams, it gets the better performance out of us,” Davis continued.Davis added that he is looking forward to the upcoming test against Cornwall College.Team captain and leading striker Creggton Charlton, who scored an impressive hat-trick and was instrumental in three other goals, was beaming following his team’s statement win.”My team dropped seven, and that’s my favourite number, and I am so happy,” said Charlton, who wears the number-seven jersey.”I don’t fear any team and I am going to take all four trophies. I am going to be the standout from Super Cup and the leading goalscorer and the MVP,” the confident player promised.
Kingston College’s distance runner Kristoff Darby said that he has been receiving a lot of attention and praise following his performance in the men’s 800m open event at the at the McKenley-Wint Track and Field Classic two weeks ago. The 19-year-old clocked a personal best time of one minute, 54.13 seconds to finish second behind World Championships 4x400m relay silver medallist Javon ‘Donkey Man’ Francis. In fact, Darby led for the entire race before he was nipped on the line by the fast-finishing Francis. The former John Mills star athlete told The Gleaner that this performance has lifted his confidence ahead of next month’s ISSA-GraceKennedy Boys and Girls Championships. “It was a very good race because it was my opening race of the season and I have been getting a lot of attention from it,” Darby said. “I ran my personal best and this was my opening meet of the season, so I was very pleased with the time.” “People are now saying that I am one of the favourites for the Class One 800m title going into Champs, and so it has really boosted my confidence … knowing that I am one of the fastest athletes for this year,” he added. Darby’s time is the second fastest this year behind Spot Valley’s Tyrese Reid, who posted one minute, 53.68 seconds on January 14. He said the run for gold at Champs is going to be very competitive but said he is confident that he will come out on top. “I want to win that 800m at Champs, so I am going very hard towards this, because I finished fourth in the event last year and I’m aiming to do much better this year,” he said. “There are a lot of dangers because I saw that Spot Valley’s Tyrese (Reid) did one minute, 53 seconds in the event. There is Leon Clarke, and he is always a good competitor, but I am a hundred per cent confident that I will win at Champs,” Darby said.