POOR PERFORMANCE LONDON (AP): The expectation is that the rails will come off Leicester’s title challenge and Manchester United will get back on track. Little goes to the script in this Premier League season. But Manchester United’s problems with scoring at home won’t go away, with boos again ringing out at Old Trafford yesterday after the hosts were stunned 1-0 by Southampton. Leicester went three points clear at the top – for 24 hours at least before Arsenal host Chelsea – by beating Stoke 3-0. And Manchester City slipped further behind the pacesetters by drawing 2-2 at West Ham. Jamie Vardy, having set the record for scoring in 11 consecutive Premier League games earlier in the season, ended a goal drought exceeding 10 hours for Leicester. Danny Drinkwater and Leonardo Ulloa scored either side of Vardy’s 66th-minute goal. A first-ever Champions League qualification for the central England club seems less fanciful by the week. Manchester United went an 11th home game in a row without scoring in the first half and then conceded after the break when Charlie Austin netted on his Southampton debut. “It was a poor performance, of course, because football is not only defending but also creating chances, and we didn’t create,” van Gaal said. United remain fifth, but are now five points behind Tottenham, who came from behind to win 3-1 at Crystal Palace. A moment of individual brilliance saw Tottenham go in front with 10 minutes to go. Dele Alli, one of the breakthrough stars of the season, flicked the ball up and back over his own head before volleying into the bottom corner. The biggest scoring game of the day was on the east coast with a nine-goal thriller, including two in stoppage time. After Norwich threw away a 3-1 lead in the second half to Liverpool, Sebastian Bassong thought he had secured a 4-4 draw, but in the fourth minute of injury time, Adam Lallana scored his first goal of the season to clinch a 5-4 victory for 7th-place Liverpool.
zoom The outlook for global container port demand growth is now more optimistic and Chinese players are on the acquisition trail in an aggressive and highly confident manner, shipping consultancy Drewry said.Drewry’s container port demand forecast is more positive than in last year’s report, exhibiting a 4% CAGR and adding a further 152 million TEU of port throughput to the global total by 2021. This is a consequence of improved port throughput growth rates in the second half of 2016 and into 2017, and a more positive general global economic outlook.However, there remain numerous risks and uncertainties at present, including tensions in the Middle East and Korean peninsula, the protectionist and unpredictable stance of the US administration, and the impact of Brexit. This is one reason why the global container port capacity is projected to increase by a CAGR of 2.7%, based on confirmed additions only.“While there are certainly some encouraging signs for the demand growth outlook, the risk profile for terminal operators has increased and most of the traditional global/international players remain cautious. The exception to this are the Chinese port companies who are pursuing expansion and investment both at home and overseas in an unprecedentedly aggressive manner,” Neil Davidson, Drewry’s senior analyst for ports and terminals, said.Merger and acquisition activity in the port sector is at a high level. About USD 3.1 billion worth of deals have been struck so far in 2017, driven by Chinese companies such as Cosco Shipping Ports and China Merchants Ports. In the last year, more than half of the acquisitions by global/international terminal operators have been made by Chinese players.Cosco Shipping Ports has moved up Drewry’s operator league table as a result of the merger of Cosco and China Shipping, and will move further up in the coming years due to the acquisition of Noatum and OOCL’s terminals. The China Cosco Shipping group is projected to add the most capacity of any of the global/international terminal operators over the next five years.“The Chinese players are more comfortable with risk than the established international operators right now, and have a geo-political strategy rather than a purely financial one. They are snapping up assets and opportunities and have the appetite and financial clout to take many more in the coming years,” added Davidson.