Queen’s second album and in my opinion their most progressive and certainly the best, the eponymous Queen II, didn’t have a side one and a side two. It had side white and side black instead, possibly for artistic reasons or more likely gimmickry. It was the 1970s after all.
I very much doubt Emi Buendia has ever heard Queen II but he certainly did his utmost to parallel that light and shade concept on a surprisingly dry and almost clement evening at the Britannia on Tuesday.
He was absolutely superb in the first half, scoring our first and gaining an assist for Teemu Pukki’s second. Despite losing Tim Krul with what surely was a muscle pull to his thigh, we re-emerged after the break and notched what proved to be a decisive and very necessary third when a suspiciously offside Pukki rounded Stoke keeper Josef Bursik with the aid of a bit of a rebound and struck home off what seemed to be his shin.
3-0 up away to Stoke and cruising – what more could we want?
Well, our very own Argentine firecracker managed to change the balance of the match single-handedly. Harshly booked for a 50/50 he followed this up with a high boot towards Stoke’s Nick Powell to see another yellow and the inevitable red.
It can’t have been deliberate as I doubt he knew Powell was that close to him but it’s the letter of the law and technically he had to go.
That’s what you get with Emi of course. Sublime invention coupled with the occasional moment where he’s left his thinking head in the dressing room.
How much should we hit out at him for being reckless? Not very much I would suggest as the good far outweighs the bad. Apparently, the first thing he did after the game was to apologise to Daniel Farke and the entire squad for his sending off, so I at least think he should be cut a bit of slack.
Did the game then turn on a sixpence? Yes, it certainly did. The final 20 minutes were a time for heroes and we had them a-plenty despite conceding a brace of headed goals that faithful reserve keeper Michael McGovern stood no chance with.
It could have been a lot worse if referee Geoff Eltringham hadn’t chosen to rule out a bundled Stoke equaliser from Lee Gregory for a foul on McGovern.
Over to Ben Gibson.
“We can take a lot from it. We showed a lot of character.
“I would imagine that people look at us as a bit of a soft touch. They probably think ‘we can get about them’ and they want to put us off our stride. They want to kick us, leave it on our creative boys and to a man we stood up to that challenge tonight.
“You saw the size of the lads they had on at the end, it was Land of the Giants. We’ve conceded two, which we’re disappointed with, but we stood up to it and found a way to win the football match, ultimately that is what matters when you come to a place like this.”
I think that says a lot about us currently that we couldn’t have anticipated at the beginning of the season.
It’s hard to pick out anybody’s specific performances from that match and obviously Pukki and Buendia will get many of the plaudits but I was particularly impressed with the contributions of Alex Tettey and Olly Skipp, who made so many interventions during the game of attack versus defence that developed in the final third of the match.
Jacob Sorensen should be added to that roll of honour as well – I thought he was immense and had his best game in a City shirt so far. And also Josh Martin, who showed some lovely touches on his full senior debut. Looks like he’s here to stay.
The injury list is becoming farcical and quite who we will field against Coventry I simply do not know. What makes it worse is that it doesn’t look like anybody is coming back soon and Tim Krul will be a massive miss. I’m even wondering if we might take a look at getting the free agent that is Lee Camp in on a short term – he’s been here before after all and didn’t perform too badly for us.
McGovern’s obvious inability to join in with the play out from the back party as supervised by Krul will be problematic but that’s for Farke to sort out.
Most of us know the names of the Academy lads while knowing very little about them. I think we’re about to be educated. Please Daniel, cut out this two keepers on the bench lark. Young Barden will be an essential presence, but no further keeper, ta.
All the things we have been accused of regarding possessing a soft centre were put to bed in that game. And oh the irony of having three fit centre-backs when some positions currently have no cover at all.
It’s a bit cheeky to dedicate this to our Emi, but for those of you [probably most of you] unfamiliar with Queen II, have a listen.