Jack Wilshere was excellent once more for AFC Bournemouth and despite their 2-2 draw with Watford, they’ve got plenty of positives to look forward to in the near future.
Wilshere operated as a defensive-minded midfielder alongside Andrew Surman and was immediately involved as Bournemouth went in search of the opener. Only 13 minutes had gone before Wilshere let loose with a fantastic lofted pass into the path of Ryan Fraser, who looked to catch Heurelho Gomes by surprise with a looping header – but the goalkeeper was forced into an acrobatic save to deny the winger from opening the scoring.
His eagerness to get on the ball cannot be exaggerated and he came close to scoring his first Premier League goal of the campaign with 20 minutes on the clock. Drifting past his marker, he let fly from long range with a speculative strike but his well-struck effort was parried to safety by Gomes. A little more to the left and Wilshere would’ve been wheeling away to celebrate a superb effort, his first since the final day of the 2014/15 campaign during a 4-1 thrashing against West Brom.
A succession of questionable clearances from Bournemouth defenders led to a corner-kick needlessly being conceded, one which the visitors took full advantage of to break the deadlock through Christian Kabasele’s header in the 24th minute.
Adam Smith’s impressive solo run down the right-hand side was neatly finished off by Joshua King just three minutes after the second-half began and there was collective belief that Bournemouth could use that goal as effective momentum to push forward and score another.
Their sloppy play proved pivotal in disrupting their attacking flow as Jose Holebas came close with an effort of his own at the other end, having weaved towards the edge of the area with limited pressure on the ball.
Wilshere was once more on the forefront of Bournemouth’s attacking play in the final third and effortlessly skipped past Tom Cleverley (with a deft nutmeg to boot) before releasing the ball forward to Fraser on his left. The 22-year-old forced Gomes into another acrobatic save with a curling effort this time and questions about the hosts’ character were ultimately posed after Troy Deeney took advantage of a goalkeeping mishap from Artur Boruc to head home, once again from another set-piece.
Benik Afobe equalised in style with time running out. Having just come off the substitutes’ bench, the striker made the most of a probing pass into his path by Surman to strike goalwards past Gomes’ despairing dive – snatching a point for the hosts in the process.
Wilshere’s individual match stats:
3 key passes
86.4% pass accuracy, highest of any starting player
7 completed dribbles
Fouled on 3 occasions
1 tackle, 1 clearance and 2 shots blocked
Stats’ source: WhoScored
The 25-year-old was Bournemouth’s best player on an afternoon where they were constantly frustrated and had to settle for a point.
A deserved winner of the Man of the Match award, he continues to be quietly brilliant and one can only hope that it’s just a matter of time before he starts to add more goal contributions into his game.