SOUTHAMPTON VS ARSENALSOUTHAMPTON (4-2-3-1)GAZZANIGA, SOARES, FONTE, VAN DIJK, BERTRAND, WANYAMA, CLASIE, S. DAVIS, MANE, TADIC, PELLEARSENAL (4-2-3-1)GIROUD, CAMPBELL, OZIL, WALCOTT, FLAMINI, RAMSEY, MONREAL, MERTESACKER, KOSCIELNY, BELLERIN, CECHArsenal go into the Christmas period in second place and just two points behind Barclays Premier League leaders Leicester City. Interestingly, Arsenal have gone into the Christmas period in second place twice – and on both occasions they went on to win the title.They should travel with confidence; the Gunners have more wins away than at home (six to five at the Emirates) and have also scored five more goals on the road (18 to 13 at home).And Southampton have failed to win in their last five games in the Premier League, dropping from seventh to 12th in the process. It is the Saints’ longest run without a win for a year; a sixth would represent their longest non-winning sequence under manager Ronald Koeman and their worst since December 2013.They have a good record on Boxing Day, winning five and losing one of the last six. They last lost on this day in 2008, at Plymouth Argyle in a second-tier game.But Arsenal’s record on Boxing Day is even better. Since they last lost on this day, at Coventry City in 1999, the Gunners have played 14 times, winning 11 and drawing three.But three of the last four Premier League games between these teams at St Mary’s have been drawn while Arsenal last won at Southampton in December 2003.Southampton test goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, with Paulo Gazzaniga on stand-by to continue at the back. Another keeper, Fraser Forster, is still out, as is Florin Gardos and Jay Rodriguez.Arsenal miss Alexis Sanchez, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Danny Welbeck and Francis Coquelin among others.
CALABAR High’s Warren Barrett and Shauntae Foreman of Excelsior High were in record-breaking form at yesterday’s 23rd staging of the Purewater-JC Invitational on the grounds of Jamaica College.Barrett had a winning throw of 19.40 metres in capturing the Class One boys’ shot put. His throw erased the 2012 mark of 18.98m set by former Calabar standout Ashina Miller. Vashon McCarthy of JC was second with 17.27m, while Calabar’s Kyle Mitchell (16.72m) placed third.Foreman, competing in Class Four, cleared the high jump bar at 1.62m to erase the one-year-old mark of 1.60m set by Abbygail Wilks of Wolmer’s Girls. Second-place Shante McFarlane of Immaculate, and third-place Zoey Shaw of St Andrew High both cleared 1.45m.There were some good results in the 100m, with Vere Technical High’s Brittney Anderson leading the way among the females. Anderson clocked a fast 11.88 seconds to win her Class-Three heat. Alpha’s Kiara Grant was second overall with 11.99, with third going to Kevin Davis of Edwin Allen in 12.17.Shantae Deer of Holmwood Technical was the fastest Class-One girl, with 11.86. Edwin Allen High’s Patrice Moody, 11.88, and Camperdown’s Rushelle Burton (11.99) were second and third, respectively.Among the boys, JC’s Odario Phillips led the way with 10.82 in the Class One 100m. Vere Technical’s Tesrico Bell was second overall with 10.83, while Manchester High’s Delano Dunkley clocked 10.91 for third.Chisholm Gordon of JC was best among the Class Two boys with a winning time of 10.92.
SAO PAULO (AP):Four trained shelter dogs that once roamed the streets of Sao Paulo found themselves centre stage at the Brazil Open tournament.In an exhibition with players, Roberto Carballes Baena of Spain and Gastao Elias of Portugal, the canines Frida, Costela, Mel, and Isabelle engaged onlookers on Thursday night by picking up balls that went out of bounds. Not long ago, the same dogs had run abandoned in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city.The shelter dogs, wearing orange ribbons and trained for months, spent almost a half-hour tracking down balls often intentionally missed by the 122nd- and 140th-ranked players. Baena and Elias played for real yesterday in the ATP tournament’s quarter-finals.At the command of their trainer, Andrea Beckert, the dogs retrieved the balls with their teeth and ran off the court to their trainer. The unusual initiative was made to promote the adoption of abandoned street animals.Beckert said that the biggest difficulty was to make the animals more confident and playful.”These are dogs that were mistreated. We have to make them adapt, feel the environment, the court, the noise of the balls, and the noise of the people. Some are doing well; others are still a little scared,” she told journalists.The basic commands that the dogs learnt were “pick the ball”, “let it go”, “stay” and “come”.The organiser of the ball-dog initiative, Marli Scaramella, said that all four still live in shelters.”The idea is to show people that a well-fed and well-treated animal can be very happy. We have more than 1,000 dogs in our care,” she said.
Minnows Mavis Bank High School have their sights set on dominating the distance races at this year’s Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/Boys and Girls’ Athletic Championships at the National Stadium.Located in the hills of rural St Andrew, Mavis Bank have dominated the road races this season. In fact, their athletes Garfield Gordon and Crystal Brown are among the leading road racers this season.Gordon is down to compete in the Class One 5000m and 2000m steeplechase at the championships. He finished a close-up fourth in the steeplechase in 2015 and is considered one of the favourites for this year’s event.Meanwhile, Brown, who will contest the Class Two 1500m and 2000m steeplechase events, is one of the hot favourites to win both at the championships.Head coach Devon Grant is confident that his athletes will do well.SURPRISES”We are going to make a name for ourselves at Champs this year and we are going to create some surprises,” said Grant. “We have dominated road races in Jamaica, the 5Ks and the 10Ks and so what we are trying to do now is to carry that over into Champs.”We can win the Class One 5,000m with Garfield because I believe that once he applies himself then he will come away with a medal for us,” Grant predicted. “I think he can also win the steeplechase open but he must apply, stay focused and execute his race properly.”Grant pointed out that his school also has a “great chance” of winning medals in the girls 1,500m Class Two and the girls Class Three 800m.”My athletes have no doubt about themselves and they feel good. I have used my experience and try and motivate them and they have been coming along and so I know that they will do well, extremely well at Champs,” he said.However, Grant added that their preparation heading into the championships hasn’t been a smooth one. He explained that the lack of proper training facility hampered their training progress this season.”We have had some hitches in our preparations because we don’t have a field to train on (and) we have to travel to Hope Gardens or the University of the West Indies to train and this costs a lot to transport the kids there and the school cannot afford it.”