The Bolton Wanderers defense leaks goals. There are plenty of balls from the opposition that end up in the back fo Bolton's net. In fact, you might as well have Matt Mills pick up a ball, put it into a box, wrap a pretty little bow around it, and place it right on the goal line half the time.
The one Wanderer that seems to get more derision than most for these defensive lapses is right back Tyrone Mears. However, a new study from excellent football analysis blog Experimental 3-6-1 has gone to show that Mears actually holds down his right side of the field quite well and has more to do than people realize.
Experimental 3-6-1 has gone through and analyzed each and every Championship side through the first ten games of the season. While the report as a whole provides insight into the rest of the league's teams, the one that is of interest to us is obviously Bolton Wanderers.
First thing first: the basics. If you look at the various (great-looking) charts about Bolton in the report, you'll notice right from the off that Bolton Wanderers score a massive 69% of their goals (nine of the 13 Bolton have scored) have come from set pieces. That means that only four have come from open play.
Second, a whopping 0% (zero percent) of Bolton's goals have come from the right side of the field with 50% coming from the center and 50% coming from the left. The reason for this is simply due to the lack of width present in Owen Coyle's Bolton side. This was directly a symptom of playing Mark Davies on the right side, out of position. Davies' first instinct was always going to be to cut in and produce from the center of the park, he was never going to maraud up and down the sidelines.
As right back, it then became Tyrone Mears' duty to push up the flank and then get back to defend. This makes the next statistic all the more remarkable. Of the 16 goals that Bolton Wanderers have allowed this season, 40% have come from the left wing (with the left defender often being out of position or put to task) while 50% have come through the center with those two defenders parting like the Red Sea. That leaves only 10% of goals coming from the right side of the field. Those goals that came from the right where more central than anything else, mind.
Tyrone Mears has started all ten of Bolton's matches this season, being one of only four Bolton players to start every game and one of only two defenders (Zat Knight, the other). Of the 16 goals that Bolton have conceded, only six have come from set pieces and four of those were from the penalty spot. In short, Bolton have to shore up the defense and one way to do this would be the introduction of a proper right winger (cough Chung-Yong Lee cough) to relieve the pressure on the defense.
Bolton have another week off duty the international break before returning to the Reebok next saturday to face Bristol City.