Championship permutations: 18-20 Nov 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.

ch-permutations-2016-11-19

Brighton are the only team capable of knocking Newcastle off top spot this weekend, although this would require a six-goal swing in the Seagulls’ favour. Even if they hammer Villa this evening they’ll need to wait until Sunday to see how their promotion rivals fare at Elland Road.

Huddersfield are the only other team guaranteed to remain in the top six this weekend, with anyone down to 11th-placed Preston capable of starting next week in the play-off places.

Even if they can stun Derby this weekend, Rotherham would still need at least one more win to move off bottom spot. Occupancy of the other two relegation places is negotiable though, with Wolves, Cardiff and Nottingham Forest all capable of being dragged into the bottom three this weekend.

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.

ch-probabilities-2016-11-19

Newcastle look all but certain to hang on to top spot, as even if they were to lose at Leeds on Sunday it would be unlikely to generate a big enough goal difference swing to move Brighton above them.

With Huddersfield away this weekend while two of the three clubs capable of overtaking them play at home, the Terriers look slightly likelier than not to lose their grip on 3rd place.

Rotherham are stuck in bottom spot for now (as mentioned above) and it looks as if there’s only around a 50% chance of there being a different club in the bottom three. Blackburn have a 16% chance of moving clear (1+15) and Wigan 34% (2+12+20), so the probability of either doing so is 16+34=50%, with Cardiff (27+10=37%) the likeliest to replace them should either move upwards.