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Friday Night Lights and a win for Norwich. Weekends don't start much better than that. Here's Jon Punt to talk about an excellent Emi, a determined display and three precious points....
It’s not over till it’s over. It would be fair to say 95 percent of City fans had written this season off completely, short of hopefully prolonging the cup run next week. This team might ultimately come up short, but there’s still fight in them, they’re still together and they can still play with a verve and guile which is Premier League standard. This was epitomised by Pukki popping up in both full back berths on multiple occasions, just to cover the spaces his colleagues had left open when trying to take the game to the Foxes.
That’s credit to the squad Stuart Webber has assembled. No egos, no dickheads, just everyone pulling in the same direction.
There is nothing to whinge about when City have just put the third best side in the country to the sword. Nothing. Just enjoy the rest of your weekend, put your feet up and watch those above us hopefully struggle.
Moment of the match
Last season I was fortunate enough to spend a bit of time at Colney while the first team squad were there. Formal sessions had finished, a few of the lads were still on the training pitch practising dead ball scenarios. Strangely Timm Klose fancied himself quite a bit to hit the top corner from 25 yards. He didn’t, at all. Mario did, quite a lot.
Jamal Lewis was out there too. Asking to be endlessly fed balls around the corner of the edge of the box, taking a touch then lashing the ball towards the far corner. Over and over he attempted it, with varying degrees of success. At the time I was hugely impressed that he was making the additional effort to work on an aspect of his game that wasn’t his greatest strength, rather than chip off early to play FIFA Ultimate Team or whatever younger people do nowadays.
So when the ball reached him after Aarons' overhit (or brilliant) cross, I felt like I’d seen it before. Lewis taking a touch, before finding the bottom corner in such an assured way that it surprised me he hasn’t done it more often. The shape of the strike was exquisite.
The youngster deserved that moment, he’s waited patiently while Byram has kept him out of the side on merit and all the noises coming out of the club are that his attitude has been spot on. In that moment, almost instantly the confidence that seemed to have been drained from him prior to the opener came flooding back. Hard work pays off kids.
Turns out after all the social media nonsense about whether he should be starting or not, that Emiliano Buendia is actually quite good at playing football. Maybe he was motivated to prove the gaffer wrong, maybe a stint on the sidelines has fixed whatever attitudinal issues may have arisen, but this was a display full of heart, industry and composure. If that can be harnessed in the right way for the remainder of the season then maybe survival isn’t mission impossible after all.
Having a different vantage point for the evening (sitting at the rear of the South Stand) proved a couple of things to me and put things in context. I am usually caught up in the atmospherics of the Barclay Lower and it’s often very difficult to gauge how other parts of the ground are vocally contributing.
First up – the Snake Pit can make a real sustained racket when they’re on it, which came to the fore a few times over the 90 minutes with them comfortably outsinging the Barclay. Well played.
Second – there is definitely a desire to get the atmosphere going in other areas. It probably just needs a few people to harness that collective will.
Aside from that, huge kudos to the Barclay in the aftermath of Leicester’s disallowed effort. Plenty of sides who’ve been on the wrong end of VAR, have subsequently gone onto to celebrate it when something from Stockley Park has fallen their way. *cough, Palace, cough*
Not us, not Nodge. Plenty of ‘Fuck VAR’ chants were audible and demonstrate that the delirious bedlam taken away from celebrating a goal properly should be enough to see the technology scrapped. Unfortunately this is the Premier League, so common sense probably won’t prevail.
Emi was back in the starting XI, which was clearly the right call. Lukas Rupp’s introduction added more industry at a time when City needed a foothold in the game after some relentless pressure from the visitors. Then the head coach sees Pukki tiring, so throws on Drmic to run around like There’s No Tomorrow. All sensible and correct decisions. A good night for Herr Farke, in which his side enjoyed some good fortune for the first time in perhaps nine months.
A dogged display, rather than the glittering Farkeball that the City faithful crave to see. Yet among all the hard work, there was some excellent interchanging between the attacking four, Pukki’s touch seemed to have returned and there was plenty of desire to fight until the very end. There is still a sizeable gap to safety, but the mission can now be categorised as possible rather than ‘forget it lads, you’re fucked’. That’s all we could have asked for prior to kick off.
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