3rd October 2016. By Edward Stratmann.
With Arsene Wenger unable to guarantee Jack Wilshere a spot in his starting lineup week in, week out for the 2016/2017 season at Arsenal, Wilshere's decision to join Bournemouth and seek vital playing time was a brave yet entirely sensible move.
"He is a world-class player, he doesn't have to show me his quality," explained Wenger. "I hope personally that he stays his whole career here."
"We had a chat together. He felt ready to play. I couldn't guarantee that and it looked logical to give him time - the challenge is to play the games."
Wilshere, who's still just 24 and already capped 34 times for England, knew the Eddie Howe managed Cherries would be a great fit for him too, for Howe's very much a manager who understands and appreciates what a player like Wilshere can bring to his team's passing orientated, entertaining brand of football. Unsurprisingly, the Bournemouth manager was absolutely ecstatic about the club being able to acquire Wilshere on loan from the Gunners, saying: "Obviously we're delighted he's chosen us and I feel he will do really well in the team.
"He can complement our style of play and maybe add that missing piece to the jigsaw."
Having had large chunks of his career ravaged by a series of savage injuries, including a crack in his right ankle, a fractured left foot, ligament damage to his ankle and a broken fibula, the move represented Wilshere with a terrific opportunity to rediscover his form away from the bright lights of Arsenal. And to his credit, he's making the most of his chance, as he's started off very encouragingly indeed.
Although building up his fitness levels is still a work in progress, something that's meant he's had to be substituted in every game he's started, there's been a lot to like about the way he's gone about his work.
Playing in an attacking midfield role, the stocky playmaker has added a palpable sense of creativity and imagination to Howe's team. Possessing such outstanding awareness and vision, combined with his exquisite passing ability, Wilshere's got that instinctive, innate ability to penetrate defenses with a moment of pure genius. He's put his aptitude in this regard to great use too, already laying on many chances for his fellow attackers in the final third.
Moreover, he's also used his unmistakable dribbling qualities to drive at opponents with his vast array of skills. Whether by performing his customary shoulder drops, his ability to subtly change pace and direction in an instant or through his wickedly sharp footwork, the Englishman's technical gifts have added an additional dimension to the Cherries' attack.
Another aspect of his game that's seen him able to impact matches so keenly has unquestionably been his brilliant movement. Being such a fine judge of where best to position himself, Wilshere's managed to constantly find space in which to weave his magic and to be the ideal link man for Bournemouth to transition from midfield into attack. Indeed, he's been a fantastic vehicle for Bournemouth to build their attacks through, with his aforementioned attributes seeing him act as a real menace for opposition defences to handle.
The strong relationships he's building with his central midfielders, Harry Arter and Andrew Surman, have been especially promising, as they vitally appear to all be on the same length at this early stage of the season.
As he continues to integrate and completely familiarise himself with his teammates, expect Wilshere to be an even more incisive, productive force looking ahead.
An ever willing contributor defensively, Wilshere's relentless harrying work and desire to win back possession, would've certainly been something his manager would love seeing.
For now though, Howe plans on closely monitoring his situation and gradually increasing his minutes to get his star man back to full fitness. "He'll play 90 minutes the day that he deserves 90 minutes or he can play 90 minutes," he noted.
"At the moment I just want to manage his workload so that he stays fit. I think that's really, really important for him and I think he recognises that and the most important thing isn't Jack, it's the team and I have to make the decision that's best for the team at all times."
Now back and playing with such swagger, verve and confidence again, Wilshere would undoubtedly feel vindicated about his bold decision to join Bournemouth on an initial season long loan.
The main challenge confronting him, however, will be to build on his sterling start and keep up his high level over a prolonged period. He'll just be hoping he can remain injury free so he can do precisely that.
Jack Wilshere On Loan at Bournemouth
3rd October 2016. By Edward Stratmann.