Unai Emery says he has respect for Jack Wilshere’s Arsenal career despite the fact the midfielder chose to leave this summer after a meeting with the new boss.
The midfielder didn’t get the kind of assurances over playing time he was looking for, and with his contract expiring decided on a move to London rival West Ham instead.
This will be the first time the 26 year old has ever played against Arsenal, during his loan spell with Bournemouth Premier League rules precluded him from facing his parent club, and the Gunners boss believes he’ll get a warm reception on his return.
“I spoke with him for 15 minutes here in London Colney before he left,” said Emery. “The first thing for me is I have respect for his career here.
“Our conversation was very clear. For me, one thing is important for him – to be a protagonist in a new project. Because maybe here he would not be the protagonist each match on the pitch.
“It is a more competitive situation for him to play, and then, he chooses what the best was for him in his future.
“It’s for that, on Saturday, I know that here, the supporters like him and have this respect also.
“I think there is a good reception for him here. Then we are going to play and we are going to think after that, for us to win.
“But, I [hope] the best for his career.”
Earlier this week, Wilshere said he was looking forward to playing Arsenal, and is out to show Emery that his decision to marginalise him in his plans was the wrong one.
“It’ll be a strange one for me as I was never able to go there and play when I went out on loan,” he said, “but it’s one I’m looking forward to.
“It’s down to me to prove a point to Arsenal that they were wrong to get rid of me.”