Bolton Wanderers have been awarded a total of three penalties this season. Those came at Millwall, Cardiff City, and Huddersfield town, respectively. Out of those three, two have been missed.
The common thread in those two missed attempts? Chris Eagles. Yet, if it's not Bolton's leading scorer to take the spot kicks, who will?
The easy answer, of course, is Martin Petrov. Bolton's Bulgarian winger is clinical from the spot and can be trusted to hit it hard and into the corner every single time he steps up to bat. In fact, he has not missed a single penalty for Bolton.
The easy answer isn't so easy though when you realize that Martin Petrov is barely on the field for the Trotters anymore. Of the 21 matches that Bolton have played so far, Petrov has played in half of them and started less than 25%.
With the odds against Martin Petrov being on the pitch for Bolton Wanderers in the event that they're awarded (gasp/shock) another penalty, who should take them for the Trotters?
Chris Eagles would be the most likely candidate. He's still Bolton's leading scorer with seven goals on the season. Yet, he's missed both chances he has had this season with one being skied well clear of the crossbar (Millwall) and one put into a very easy position to save (Huddersfield).
Kevin Davies was the ever-present on the spot for Bolton until the middle of last season (in fact, we wrote about it). The big man had a string of missed and saved penalties as Bolton were fighting relegation from the off. Martin Petrov took over from there.
Who else is left? Mark Davies, Chung-Yong Lee, and David Ngog are all unknown quantities from the penalty spot and I certainly wouldn't trust any of Bolton's defenders. Maybe Stu Holden after he makes a full return, but that's still a ways off.
The truth is that Chris Eagles is still Bolton's best penalty-taking option. The winger poses the greatest threat from dead ball situations ands his four goals directly from free kicks are the most in the league not only as an individual but as the highest total for any team in the division.
The situation is not that Eagles doesn't know how to hit them, he clearly does, as evidenced by his direct free kicks that tend to find the corner. What it seems to be instead is a crisis of confidence. Just think about it. Eagles tried to too close to the top corner against Millwall and ended up finding Row Z instead. Against Huddersfield Town, it became clear that he didn't want to miss like that again and this time, put the ball far too close to the center.
What does Chris Eagles need to do? Just hit it. There's no easier way to get that confidence back than to try again and put it into the corner. Eagles could have wallowed against Huddersfield town but he picked himself up and scored with style not long after missing his kick.