A quick look at each club’s remaining fixtures
I saw a quote from Neil Warnock earlier along the lines of “if you look at the fixtures you doubt we’ll get another point”, which presumably is a reference to to how tricky Rotherham’s run-in is. Given that we’re around the 30-game mark, I thought I’d take a quick look at how tough each club’s remaining games appear.
What I’ve done is really simple: for each club I’ve averaged the points won per match by each of their remaining opponents and overlaid this onto the existing league table, colour coded with green being “easy” and red being “hard”. I’ve also added in the number of matches they’ve got left to play, with a simple “greener = more games left” colour scheme.
To use the top row as an example, Hull currently sit top of the table and their remaining opponents have amassed an average of 1.30 points per game. The fact that this number is coloured green implies that their fixtures look slightly easier than average.
You can see that there isn’t too much difference at the moment, but as we get nearer the end of the season some of these differences will get a lot bigger.
The really interesting one here is Brentford, who are stuck in mid-table but still have to play each of the bottom eight and could therefore make a late dash upwards. A few of the teams immediately above them, like Wolves and Cardiff, have tougher-looking run-ins and could therefore be leapfrogged.
The current bottom three of Rotherham, Charlton and Bolton have among the hardest remaining matches, so there’s definitely some realism in Warnock’s statement and all three could struggle to move out of the danger zone.
The last column isn’t particularly relevant here, as nearly all of the clubs have played the same number of matches. It gets more useful as we go down the divisions.
Peterborough are in a very similar position to Brentford in the division above: they sit in mid-table but their easy-looking run-in – particularly compared to a few of the teams immediately above them – gives them the chance to make a late surge upwards.
Both Shrewsbury and Fleetwood could be hauled deeper into relegation trouble given their tough run-in, although the Cod Army have a few games in hand over the sides around them. The Shrews only have one match remaining against the five clubs beneath them but have to face 10 of the current top 12.
While Bristol Rovers have narrowly the easiest-looking run-in, their chances of securing a play-off spot could be thwarted by many of their competitors having similarly straightforward fixtures remaining. However Wycombe‘s tricky run-in makes them look catchable.
The reverse is happening at the bottom, where many of the relegation strugglers have tough games remaining. Stevenage still have to play five of the top six and only have two games left against clubs beneath them.
A comparably tough run-in awaits mid-table Cambridge, who have to face each of the current top eight again and may therefore have left it too late to mount a play-off push.
The three Football League divisions all looked greener at the top than the bottom, to the extent that I was wondering whether not having to play themselves was a factor in the averaging, but here we have the opposite situation. Most of the bottom half clubs have easier-looking run-ins than the top half, which makes you wonder how much the current order of the table owes to the fixture schedule.
Dover look like a good bet to hang on to their play-off spot considering how straightforward their run-in looks compared to the teams around them. They only have three matches left against sides in the top eight and all are at home.
Unfortunately Grimsby‘s title challenge looks to be fading and they still have to play the rest of the top five away and only have two matches left against the bottom eight – both also away from home.
Southport have the most benign-looking run-in, facing only two of the current top nine and all of the current bottom seven.
I’d be worried about Guiseley, who still have to play all of the top five, although all of these games are at home.
Note: I know that there’s plenty of stuff I haven’t considered here, such as home vs. away matches etc, but I already overkill on the science with my regular E Ratings projections.