BRADLEY Orr has stressed that Blackburn Rovers must target clean sheets if they are to aid their chances of staying in the Premier League – even if he believes they should not put too much focus on an impending top flight record.
Rovers claimed a 3-2 win over QPR on Saturday to climb out of the relegation zone but there was still frustration from players and manager that two second half goals from the visitors prevented them from claiming their first clean sheet of the season.
Not since the 1975/76 season had any top flight team gone 25 games without a shut-out from the start of a campaign but Rovers equalled that mark, set by Sheffield United, at the weekend.
Steve Kean’s side will now have a tough task to avoid surpassing the Yorkshire side’s unwanted streak, with their next match at Premier League leaders Manchester City next Saturday.
Right back Orr made his full Blackburn debut against QPR and knows the importance of clean sheets if Rovers are to survive.
But, having only joined Rovers at the end of the January transfer window, he admits he was unaware of how close the club are to surpassing Sheffield United’s mark and thinks the statistic itself is not important.
“I didn’t know about that but it doesn’t really matter,” said Orr, who was part of a QPR defence that kept an incredible 25 clean sheets in 46 league games on the way to promotion last term.
“The main thing is staying up, that’s more important.
“Obviously if someone offered you a 2-1 or a 3-2 win, you would say yes. It’s just vital that we win.
“But it would be great if we can keep a few clean sheets between now and the end of the season, because that would help us get results.
“It would give us a good chance of getting the wins we need.
“Any clean sheet is important and we would love to start doing that.”
Rovers are also just two games away from equalling Burnley’s run of 27 Premier League games without a clean sheet, which started 11 games into their relegation campaign two years ago.
Only West Bromwich Albion, who went 34 games without a clean sheet last term, have gone longer than Burnley without a shut-out during the course of a Premier League season.
Like Orr, Kean is similarly eager to start securing clean sheets in the near future.
While pleased with Rovers’ attacking qualities on Saturday, he said: “We certainly have to be thinking about defending as well because we’d worked all week (before the QPR game) and I think that showed in the first half.
“Our intensity of getting up to the ball and our defensive shape I thought was good, although we did have a little wobble once they scored.
“It’s making sure that we can start keeping clean sheets because we’ve not managed to get one yet.”