7:40am Saturday 16th February 2013
By Andy Cryer
AS far as debuts go, Bradley Orr’s Blackburn Rovers bow was almost as bad as it gets.
Now, a little more than a year on the Liverpudlian right back returns to the scene of the crime looking to exorcise a few ghosts and earn a place in FA Cup folklore.
Rovers’ 7-1 Premier League defeat at the Emirates Stadium last season was a glimpse of Arsenal at their best, as the likes of Robin van Persie, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott tore Steve Kean’s men to shreds.
Arsene Wenger’s class of 2013 may be without Van Persie, now plying his trade at Manchester United, but Orr knows from first hand experience the damage some of the other squad can inflict.
Rovers travel to the Emirates for this afternoon’s FA Cup fifth round tie on the back of a four-match unbeaten streak and looking to spring the latest shock in this season’s competition.
Orr said: “That was a rude awakening to the task ahead. What can you say? We got battered on the day. We went down to 10 men and they just ran amok. Van Persie was unplayable as were probably six or seven others.
“It’s devastating, because it’s a massive dent in your personal pride, because you want to do as well as you can.
“You don’t mean to go out and get on the end of a batterring.
“Sometimes you are just chasing shadows like we were in that game and hopefully it’s not more of the same. We can adapt and do a lot better than we did when we played there last time.”
Rovers are hopeful the Gunners will have their minds elsewhere tomorrow, with a Champions League meeting with Bayern Munich just a few days away, but Orr knows whoever plays will be the toughest yet for Michael Appleton’s men.
“They are a top club,” he said. “With top European players who have all won a lot throughout their careers, so it’s going to be a massive test.
“But it’s in the middle of the Champions League games so you don’t know what team they are going to play. They have a lot of talent and strength in depth even if it’s young lads that come in.
“They have the top young lads in Europe because you know the scouting network that Arsenal have got.
“It will be tough but it’s a nice distraction from the league, something that we can go and enjoy playing at a fantastic stadium at a top club and see how we adapt and adjust to that.”
Arsenal’s FA Cup final misery in 2001, when they lost to Liverpool in the final, was a sweet moment for Orr, in the crowd as fan that day.
And he travels to London dreaming of inflicting more cup misery more a decade on.
“The Owen final in 2001, I remember it very well,” he said. “I went, it was in Cardiff. They had the invincibles team with Henry and Vieira.
“Being a Reds supporter it was great on the day. We got battered for most of the game and Owen pops up and wins it for you.”
As a Rovers player, Orr is hoping that the midweek draw with a Brighton side who share a similar style with Arsenal, will reap its benefits.
Orr added: “We’re looking forward to Saturday against another team that likes to keep loads of possession and make you work so it’s another big test for us.
“A win? That’s the dream scenario. Why would we want another game, a replay?
“I think we’ve got eight games in 30 days so we don’t want to make it nine.”
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