Gold hits 3-week high after China rate cut, ECB comments

24 karat gold bars are seen at the United States West Point Mint facility in West Point, New YorkBy Frank Tang and Jan Harvey NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) – Gold climbed above $1,200 an ounce on Friday to its highest in three weeks, helped by short-covering and after a surprise interest rate cut by China fueled hopes that demand would rise in the world's biggest consumer of the metal. Also underpinning gold's inflation-hedge appeal were remarks by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi that opened the door for more drastic measures to prevent deflation. In addition, the ECB said it had started buying asset-backed securities, in a move to encourage banks to lend and revive the economy. …


Crystal Palace vs. Liverpool: Tactical Preview of Premier League Game

Premier League Super Sunday kicks off with Crystal Palace vs. Liverpool at Selhurst Park—a repeat of the match that broke the Reds’ title charge last season.

Let’s take a tactical look at the game and preview how it may play out.

 

Crystal Palace

If you haven’t checked in on the Eagles yet this season, Neil Warnock has tried to keep it very similar to last year’s great escape under Tony Pulis.

Palace will line up in their usual 4-4-1-1 formation, with Marouane Chamakh just behind Fraizer Campbell up front. The midfield is workmanlike in the middle and tricky on the outside, boasting power through the centre and pace down the flanks.

The expected central defensive partnership of Scott Dann and Damien Delaney struggles on the deck but dominates in the air, and Palace will sit typically deep and concede possession for long periods in this game.

 

Liverpool Setup

The big news heading into this one is, of course, Daniel Sturridge’s latest setback. Brendan Rodgers told Liverpool’s official website it’s “hugely disappointing” to lose a player of this quality, and the Reds will have to soldier on without him for the time being.

That leaves Mario Balotelli up front, with Philippe Coutinho or Adam Lallana opposite Raheem Sterling on the wings. We’re expecting a 4-3-3, hoping blindly for a return of the diamond but dreading the possibility of a turgid 4-2-3-1.

Glen Johnson will likely pip Javier Manquillo at right-back, Dejan Lovren could be given the chance to improve in the centre and Joe Allen will fight Emre Can for a central midfield berth.

 

Key Tactical Point 1: Glen Johnson goes walkies

Hands up if you remember Johnson’s performance at Selhurst Park last season? It was a key factor in throwing away a victory, three points and a continued shot at the Premier League title.

The right-back slammed “sofa experts” (the fans) after the game, per the Daily Mail, following a pretty lengthy stream of criticism over his (lack of) positional skills and error-ridden performance in the defensive phase.

Fortunately for Warnock, Johnson’s riposte was all bravado; his performance was terrible, and he hasn’t really improved since that day. With Yannick Bolasie primed to play left midfield, the home side couldn’t dream of a better individual matchup on the counter-attack.

Look for the ball to be moved quickly out to Bolasie, the dribble monster, on the left wing in order to run at Johnson or into the space he leaves behind when foraying forward. Wilfried Zaha, playing from the right, could find joy behind Alberto Moreno or switch with Bolasie during the game.

 

Key Tactical Point 2: Quick passing, movement between the lines

Liverpool are not going to restore their attacking form of 2013-14 without major adjustments.

Many feel that bringing back the diamond will fix everything—the 3-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur earlier this season gives that suggestion credence—but really, it’s about restoring the player movement and passing that has become synonymous with the diamond that they crave.

For some reason, the players only pass and move in one formation.

A diamond without Sturridge would require Sterling to move up front or Fabio Borini to come in. At this stage that seems a bold prediction, so Liverpool fans will have to hope Rodgers can coax some movement and linkup play between his men from a 4-3-3.

Against Palace, if you pass it quickly between the lines and push runners into gaps, they struggle. They’ve lost the defensive resiliency of the Pulis era and defensive mistakes are kicking in; Dann, Delaney and Brede Hangeland aren’t good on the floor, and Joel Ward playing at left-back leads to mistakes.

If there was ever a time for the Reds to kick on and find themselves despite missing Sturridge, it’s here.

 

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