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What has happened to Chris Eagles? Bolton Wanderers' danger man has cooled off

Chris Brunskill

The case of Chris Eagles is a strange one. The Bolton Wanderers winger started out the season like few Trotters before him had, scoring six goals in his first 12 matches and assisting (at least) six additional goals. Then, it all went quiet for Eagles. The men in white have played 17 games since those first 12 and in that span, Eagles has notched just one goal and seven assists. In the last seven league games (ten in all competitions), it's been zeroes across the board for Bolton's once-prolific goalscorer.

Below is a quick breakdown of the goals that Chris Eagles scored, where on the field they were from, and whether it was open play or a set piece:

Match Field position Type of play
2-0 Derby County win Center, 12 yards out Open play
2-2 Nottingham Forest draw Center, 12 yards out Open play
3-1 Hull City loss Slightly left of center, 30 yards out Free kick
2-1 Birmingham City loss Center, 30 yards out Free kick
2-1 Millwall loss Center, 20 yards out Free kick
3-2 Bristol City win Center, 20 yards out Free kick
2-2 Huddersfield Town draw Center, 16 yards out Open play

In those seven matches where Eagles was scoring goals, he was tacking shots. Across those seven games, he managed 27 shots with 12 of those on target (3.85 shots per game, 1.71 on target). In those ten games since Eagles has last scored a goal (in all competitions), he's managed 24 shots total with 13 on target (2.4 shots per game, 1.3 on target). Chris Eagles is not shooting as much.

Dennis made the point that perhaps Eagles was shooting too much, after all, he had more than three times as many shots taken as the next-highest person on the list. But as you can see, when he stopped taking as many shots, he stopped scoring. That would be fine if the winger concentrated on putting balls into the box for others to score from, but as I mentioned before, his last ten games have seen big, fat goose eggs across the board.

The other thing is that more than half of Chris Eagles' goals have come from set piece situations, with all of those coming as free kicks from outside the box. Bolton have won dangerous free kicks of late but it hasn't been Eagles hitting them, at least not in the direction of goal. Whether it's a confidence issue or something else, Chris Eagles hasn't been trying to hit the target. His efforts from set pieces have been dinks or chips into the box rather than the drives that saw him score four this season. Instead, Jay Spearing and Marcos Alonso have been taking control and Bolton have not scored from any of their chances.

It could be that Chris Eagles is simply burned out. After all, he's missed just one game this season: Bolton's Capital One Cup loss to Crawley Town. Eagles has only been a substitute in two matches: the season opener against Burnley and the first FA Cup third round match against Sunderland. He's started 31 games this season and only been substituted off on ten occasions, never going less than 60 minutes when starting a game and going less than 70 on only one occasion. Eagles has played the most appearances of anyone in the team, with his 33 beating out Kevin Davies' 31, Zat Knight's 30, Adam Bogdan's 29, and Keith Andrews' 27.

There are a whole host of reasons for why Chris Eagles has cooled down but one thing is for sure, Bolton Wanderers need his goals. Despite not scoring in the last 17 matches, Eagles still leads Bolton Wanderers with his seven league goals. The next highest on the list is Kevin Davies with six and he hasn't scored in his last nine league matches. Marvin Sordell is stepping up his goal-scoring tally but Bolton need more than one man producing.