Despite West Ham’s £100m lavish spend on summer signings, Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe has identified Jack Wilshere, a free agent, as their most important player to stop when the two sides meet on Saturday.
Wilshere had a loan spell at Bournemouth in the 2016-17 Premier League season and recently ended a 17-year association with Arsenal after learning that new manager Unai Emery was not willing to guarantee him a regular place in the starting line-up.
Liverpool scored four against West Ham without reply in the Hammer’s opening Premier League match with much of the play passes Wilshere by. He started in a number ten role then dropped deeper to support Mark Noble in midfield but remained largely ineffective.
Wilshere will get his first chance to play in front of the home West Ham fans at the London stadium on Saturday against Bournemouth, but Howe is putting a special plan in place to spoil the party.
“It was good to see Jack Wilshere when we played Arsenal last season,” said Howe, who formed a good relationship with the 26-year-old during his year on the south coast. “He could have a big bearing on the game and it’s up to us to stop him.”
Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham side looked tactically lost at Anfield, but the new manager has decided on Wilshere’s best position after experimenting with different roles. “I see Jack playing as a holding midfielder but with three movements,” the former Manchester City manager said.
“He can give us very good build up from our side, but he is a player that is always making creative things from the beginning.”
Unlike West Ham, Bouremouth were victorious in their opening game of the season, beating newly promoted Cardiff 2-0, but Howe sees this weekend’s match against the Hammers as a chance to really assess how good his squad is.
“West Ham have a very experienced manager and they’ve recruited some really good players,” said the Cherries manager. “This will be a good marker for us on where we stand.
“It was a nice thing for us to get that opening day win – it gives you a nice confidence lift. What’s important now is that we don’t sit back and reflect on that one win, we need to push forwards from this point.
“Cardiff made it difficult and we didn’t play to our best potential but we found a way to win, which is very pleasing.”
Bournemouth will hand a debut to £25m record signing Jefferson Lerma, who missed the opening game through a lack of fitness, and summer recruit Diego Rico.
“I think you can see Diego Rico and Jefferson Lerma’s personalities are coming out, I think they’ll be good characters and add a lot to the group on and off the pitch,” said Howe.
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