DREAMING SUPPORTERS “It is true our supporters can dream,” Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino said. Second-place Tottenham lead Arsenal on goal difference, while City’s second straight home loss kept the team six points behind Leicester, with their squad beginning to look stretched as they go for trophies on four fronts. In the other match, last-place Aston Villa slipped to their heaviest home defeat in 81 years, losing 6-0 to Liverpool. The visitors had six different scorers, including Daniel Sturridge in the injury-prone striker’s first league start for more than four months. Relegation candidates all of last season, Leicester are dealing with a different kind of pressure this time round, but failure to handle rising expectations wasn’t the reason behind the defeat at Emirates Stadium. The biggest factor was probably the sending-off of right back Danny Simpson after two yellow cards in the opening nine minutes of the second half. Leicester were then leading 1-0, thanks to Jamie Vardy’s penalty on the stroke of half-time – his league-high 19th goal of the season. Substitutes came good for Arsenal. Theo Walcott equalised with 20 minutes to go, with Arsenal’s first shot on target and fellow sub Welbeck, who came on in the 83rd minute, headed in Mesut Ozil’s free kick. “Everybody is extremely happy for him because he has been out for 10 months. That is an eternity for a player,” Wenger said. Spurs capped a successful day for the north London clubs by completing a league double over City, another sign that they are ready to finally challenge for the championship under Pochettino after years of underachievement. Harry Kane put Tottenham in front in the 53rd from a penalty that was controversially awarded for a handball against Raheem Sterling, who turned his back to a cross from Danny Rose. The ball appeared to strike a combination of his elbow and back, with his arm not outstretched. Substitute Kelechi Iheanacho equalised in the 74th, only for Eriksen to race onto Erik Lamela’s through-ball and slip a low finish past goalkeeper Joe Hart. With 12 games left, City are now dependent on three teams above them dropping points. “The first problem is our team,” City manager Manuel Pellegrini said. “We need to improve in a lot of things.” It is the first time since 1985 that Tottenham has been second at this stage of the season. After Sturridge and James Milner secured a 2-0 lead at half-time, Liverpool scored four goals in 13 second-half minutes – through Emre Can, Divock Origi, Nathaniel Clyne and Kolo Toure – to seal their biggest win under Juergen Klopp. Liverpool climbed to eighth place, three points behind fifth-place Manchester United, while Villa are eight points from safety. MANCHESTER, England (AP): Arsenal and Tottenham grabbed late winning goals against title rivals yesterday to move two points off the lead as the race to win the English Premier League tightened up. Leicester started the weekend with an unlikely five-point lead, but conceded in the fifth minute of stoppage time to lose 2-1 at Arsenal, with Danny Welbeck scoring the winner in his first match back after 10 months out because of injury. “This strengthens our belief that we are in the fight,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “It would have been massive for us to lose.” It was only Leicester’s third loss of the season – and two of them have been inflicted by Arsenal. Christian Eriksen didn’t leave it quite so late for Spurs against Manchester City, slotting home in the 83rd minute to also seal a 2-1 win at Etihad Stadium. It will be regarded as a landmark win for a young Tottenham team that is going for the club’s first league title since 1961.
All season, track and field fans have had a dilemma. With the JAAA schedule packed on every Saturday from the start of the year, hard choices have been made. If you saw the slip-surge 10.44-second run by Calabar High School’s Christopher Taylor at the Camperdown Classic, it meant you missed the determined 52.4 4x400m anchor leg by Junelle Bromfield for STETHS at the Western Relays. Choosing either one meant almost certainly missing the 51.91-metre record discus heave by Excelsior throws princess Shanice Love at the King of the Rings at the Antrim-Mountain View Avenue-based institution. That dilemma disappears on Saturday with the Gibson/McCook Relays. As is customary, there are no other meets on the JAAA schedule on the day when the Gibson/McCook Relays presents a feast for sprint fans. First staged as the Gibson Relays in 1973, the meet is a festival of speed. The 4×100-metre relay is at the foundation of the meet, with preparatory, primary, secondary and tertiary student-athletes all attempting to move their batons around the National Stadium track at high speed. Bordered by the meet-opening and meet-closing 4x400m relays, Gibson/McCook also has competitions in the 4x200m, 4x800m, the sprint medley and selected individual events. Jamaica has always loved the sprints, so while other meets have come and gone, the Relays has retained its appeal. Many view it as a prelude to the ISSA Boys and Girls’ Championships and use it as an indicator for the results of that high-energy high-school meet. Hence, the core of the support of the Gibson/McCook has long come from past students of the champion teams in the land. With no scheduling dilemma to split the attentions of the fan base, this Saturday should be no different. In recent years, interest has been boosted by the presence of superstars who have foregone the traditional move to the United States of America to study and train. This has given fans an early-season glance at Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Brigitte Foster-Hylton and the like. Very few have the opportunity to see them at the Olympics or the World Championships, so it’s a day aficionados cherish. Bolt has been a brilliant source of speed and excitement. His Racers team holds the men’s 4x100m record at a phenomenal 38.08 seconds. That was at the 2010 renewal, when the tall man also zipped through a 4x400m anchor leg in 44.2 seconds in vain. Last year, he made the news worldwide for a race his Racers team lost by inches, the men’s 4x100m to the University of Technology. Relays are the team event of athletics. It takes co-operation to pilot the baton, from start to finish, safely and quickly enough to win. The speed, the fine margins for error, and the excitement, has kept fans on the edge of their seats and on their feet during each of the previous 39 stagings of the event. Don’t be surprised if it happens again on Saturday. – Hubert Lawrence has made notes at trackside since 1980.
Highly motivated KOLKATA, India (CMC): Captain Darren Sammy has lashed out at cricket broadcaster Mark Nicholas for describing West Indies as “short of brains” in a pre-tournament preview, and says the comment helped served as a catalyst for the side’s success in the ongoing Twenty20 World Cup. Writing before the tournament, Nicholas said West Indies were “short of brains, but have Indian Premier League history in their ranks”, a comment Sammy and the Caribbean side took great exception to. “How could you describe people with ‘no brains’? Animals got brains. We’re not an object,” an emotional Sammy told a media conference on the eve of the Twenty20 World Cup final here yesterday. “To me, that particular comment really set it off for us. You could see me talking about it. It’s kind of emotional, as for somebody who I respect and had good rapport with that particular gentleman. “To describe our team, who were defending champions four years ago, as we guys with no brains is really out of order.” West Indies lost just once in the preliminaries – to Afghanistan in their final game – to top Group 1 ahead of the semi-finals. They then produced a spectacular performance against tournament favourites India, chasing down 193 at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday in Mumbai to book their spot in the final. Sammy said that because of the criticism, West Indies had become closer as a unit and were now highly motivated ahead of today’s final. “Everybody is entitled to his opinion. You guys (media) ask most difficult questions to get a good story. We understand that. The key for us is the belief in our own circle. Whatever they say, it does not really matter,” Sammy pointed out. “God doesn’t love the ugly, and we’re very wonderful and very beautiful men. That’s why we play exciting cricket. For us, all these things have happened before the tournament. That’s the passion, determination that we take on the field. It’s one more step. We believe that we could do it.”
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP): Sri Lanka’s Test opener Kaushal Silva was taken to hospital yesterday after being hit on the head by a cricket ball while fielding in a domestic match. Sri Lanka Cricket said that Silva was struck during a match in Pallekele. His scans were clear, but he was flown to a hospital in the capital Colombo for further tests and observation, the cricket body added. Silva has played 24 Test matches for Sri Lanka and scored 1,404 runs at an average of 31. “Kaushal was fielding at short leg when he got hit,” espncricinfo.com quoted national team manager Charith Senanayake as saying. According to Senanayake, Sri Lanka vice-captain Dinesh Chandimal “swept right on to the back of Kaushal’s head. He did take evasive action, but still the ball hit him”. The website said Silva was wearing a helmet with additional padding, a design introduced for player safety after the death of Australia batsman Phillip Hughes after being struck by a ball on the head in November 2014. Yesterday’s match was part of Sri Lanka’s preparations for its tour of England next month, with the first of three Tests starting at Headingley on May 19.