Championship permutations: 16-18 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-2016-12-15

With a massive eight points separating Brighton from Reading, the composition of the top two is unlikely to vary during the remainder of 2016. However the Royals’ third place is under attack from the five clubs beneath them and two further sides can enter the play-off zone this weekend.

The three point gap between Fulham and Preston means there’s little crossover possible between the top 10 and the rest of the table in this round of matches.

At the bottom, Blackburn are the only club currently in the bottom three who can escape it, with the four clubs above Rovers all able to be dragged into the relegation zone instead.

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-2016-12-15

Newcastle and Brighton are both away this weekend, which limits the Seagulls’ prospects of snatching top spot. Reading are also on the road, which makes them likelier to lose third place than retain it.

Even if Preston were to win away and Fulham to lose at home, the big swing in goal difference required for the Lilywhites to move upwards makes it very unlikely that they’ll break into the top 10 this weekend.