After an encouraging start to life on-loan on the south coast, there was an interesting test for Jack Wilshere as Eddie Howe’s side travelled to the Riverside with a beatable opponent in their sights, but faced reinvigorated side after their draw against Arsenal last weekend.
Wilshere operated as a forward-thinking attacking midfielder, the position which he is able to play with the most freedom behind the striker, who was Callum Wilson in this case.
With that being said, Wilson’s impact on the game itself was relatively insignificant and half-chances were created by players such as Jack himself.
It was the midfielder’s in-swinging corner which forced a goal-line clearance from Adam Clayton after Joshua King struck goalwards inside the area. The scoreline was still goalless at this point and with England’s interim manager Gareth Southgate up in the stands, it seemed appropriate that Wilshere would continue to prove why, fitness-permitting, he’s a credible creative force for any side.
Wilshere played a probing over-the-top pass into the path of Wilson after 13 minutes, but the forward was hustled well by Ben Gibson and the chance was seemingly gone. Not for long though, as the 24-year-old’s delivery swerved dangerously in the area and could’ve easily resulted in the opener; one of Wilshere’s many completed passes on the afternoon.
He was constantly looking up to try and find space, whilst eagerly wanting the ball at his feet with Middlesbrough’s banks of four retreated in the hopes of springing a well-worked counter-attack once possession was squandered.
It was another brilliant pass which fed the run of Joshua King, but the Norway international watched in agony as Victor Váldes’ fingertip stop pushed the effort onto the crossbar from close-range.
After Gáston Ramírez’s excellent individual effort broke the deadlock, Bournemouth’s chances in the final third became increasingly limited and Wilshere’s creativity suffered as a result.
He was more involved defensively and showed an admirable work-rate to add an extra presence out of possession, but it came at a price. Boro had a lead to protect but given the lack of players actively pressing them, they went onto double their lead eleven minutes after the interval through Stewart Downing.
Wilshere did his best to get on the ball thereafter, but the damage was already done.
Despite a few half-chances from Charlie Daniels and Benik Afobe late on, Boro held firm at the back to seal all three points in a fixture that could’ve gone either way.