Championship permutations: 21-22 Oct 2016

What’s possible

Here are the highest and lowest possible positions that each club can occupy after this weekend’s fixtures. I’ve drawn lines under the automatic promotion and play-off spots, mid-table and the last spot above the relegation zone on both “axes” for ease of reference.

These graphics are explained here, but in a nutshell I crunch through every possible combination of results to work out how far it’s mathematically possible for each club to rise and fall.

2016-10-22-ch-permutations

While four different clubs could theoretically top the table this weekend, Brighton and Huddersfield would require unrealistically large swings in goal difference to wrest top spot from Newcastle.

If results go Birmingham‘s way then they could insert themselves into the automatic promotion race, although the downside for them this weekend is being ejected from the top six altogether.

Mid-table remains very fluid, with Ipswich one of three teams capable of starting next week anywhere from 7th down to 20th and Nottingham Forest able to move either into the top half or the relegation zone.

Rotherham look set to remain bottom for a while and would need to double their current points tally just to escape the relegation zone at the moment. However the company they keep in the bottom three remains changeable, with seven different candidates for the two remaining spots.

What’s likely

The above shows what’s mathematically possible but doesn’t make any allowances for what’s likely to happen, so I’m trialling a second graphic that uses my E Ratings prediction model (which I used to simulate the weekend’s games thousands of times) to assign some probabilities to all these potential changes.

It’s structured very similarly to the one above: the clubs are still listed in the same order as the current league table down the side and the dividing lines are all in the same place, but now across each row is the percentage chance of them moving to other positions in the table. As above, green indicates a rise, red a drop and grey staying put. The darker the red or green, the higher the probability. If there’s no number in a square, it means that the club didn’t fill that position in any of the thousands of simulations I ran and is therefore very unlikely.

2016-10-22-ch-probabilities

Newcastle‘s prospects of clinging to top spot (77%) are slightly better than three in four: they are at home this weekend and their goal difference requires Norwich to better their result. As mentioned above, the likelihood of either Brighton or Huddersfield overtaking the Magpies is so slim that it didn’t happen at all during my thousands of simulations.

Sheffield Wednesday are fancied to beat QPR this weekend and the difference in their potential fortunes reflect this. The Owls are given a 62% chance (22+40) of remaining in the play-off zone while their visitors only have a 27% chance (5+9+6+7) of remaining at or above their current position.

At the bottom, Blackburn are the most likely side to drop into the bottom three to replace any potential escapees this weekend. They have a tough away trip to Bristol City and are two points worse off than the clubs immediately above them.