Jack Wilshere says he had a good year with Bournemouth, and he left the club with some good friends and a lot of fond memories.
The 26-year-old spent last season on loan with Arsenal’s weekend opponents, trying to find fitness.
In the end it was a mixed year from a supporter’s perspective. Wilshere impressed in spells and put a long run of games together, but injured himself again before reaching May.
The England international insists it was a positive experience.
He told the Arsenal magazine (via Arsenal.com): “It was a good year. I really enjoyed it. I’ve got some good friends in Bournemouth, the manager was great for me. I think it was good for me as a player and a person to experience that because I’ve always been at Arsenal.
“Arsenal is a top, top club where most of the time you’re in possession of the ball and of course you have to work on the defensive side, but it’s sort of the other way around at Bournemouth.
“A lot of the time, especially when we were playing the top teams, we didn’t have the ball and it improved me defensively and made me understand that side of the game a lot more.”
On the pitch, the loan was clearly helpful for Wilshere. He’s back to his best offensively, scoring and assisting in recent weeks.
The midfielder is also winning free-kicks for his team more than any other player in the league.
The Hale End graduate is also much improved defensively, winning the ball back more often than any of his teammates.
The England international says the loan helped to positively influence him in other ways too. He explained: “Off the pitch as well it was different, because it happened so quickly. It was something like the August 29 when I had a conversation with the boss and he said ‘yeah you can go’. It just happened really quickly and it was life-changing.
“[The Bournemouth players are] great lads. It’s almost like a family and they welcomed me in from the first day. Obviously I knew Benik already, but it was nice. It’s a nice town a nice place to live, by the seaside, the kids loved it and I had a good year.”
Now Wilshere needs to put those friendships behind him for 90 minutes. The Gunners need to grind out a result back at the Vitality Stadium, hopefully with the former Bournemouth loanee’s help.
Hopefully he’ll get a good reception from the home crowd, if he’s fit for the game. Once the match gets underway, he has to forget all that, and just focus on the result.