Championship permutations: 13-14 Dec 2016

What’s possible

Here are the highest and lowest possible positions that each club can occupy after the forthcoming round of 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-2016-12-13

The top two of Newcastle and Brighton are once again only able to exchange places with each other, while another unlikely Reading win has ensconced them so firmly into third place that they can’t be budged for now.

The remainder of the play-off race is wide open, with six different clubs capable of claiming fourth place alone. With incumbents Huddersfield having a negative goal difference, a defeat for them and a win for 9th-placed Norwich would be sufficient for the Canaries to supplant them if other results go their way.

At the bottom Rotherham have a lot more to do before they can start to move up the table: they’re eight points behind Wigan and 10 from safety.

What’s likely

The above shows what’s mathematically possible but doesn’t make any allowances for what’s likely to happen, so I’ve come up with a second graphic that uses my E Ratings prediction model (used to simulate the forthcoming round of 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-2016-12-13

So Brighton have around a one in four chance of overtaking Newcastle – both are away from home and the Seagulls have a slightly better chance of winning their game, but they need to better the Magpies’ result thanks to goal difference.

With Huddersfield also away, they only have around a one in three chance of holding on to fourth place. Derby look the likeliest to replace them as they visit troubled QPR and are fancied by the model to get a result.

At the bottom it looks unlikely that Wigan – who host Brighton – will escape the bottom three, with Blackburn given a roughly 50:50 chance (37+12=49%) of joining them and Rotherham should Cardiff better their result.