Premier League permutations: 14-15 Jan
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 Champions League places, 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.
Chelsea still have a five-point cushion and are therefore safe at the top for the time being, but could be rubbing shoulders with one of four possible second-placed clubs come Monday.
Both Arsenal and Man Utd can break into the top four this weekend and are insulated from falling by the nine-point gulf between the Red Devils and seventh-placed Everton.
Any of the four lowest-placed sides are mathematically capable of finishing the weekend at the foot of the table, with three of them guaranteed to be sitting in the relegation zone. However as we’ll see below, Hull‘s prospects of leaving the bottom three this weekend are minuscule.
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.
With Tottenham‘s home game against West Brom looking far more winnable than Liverpool‘s trip to Old Trafford, their chances of overtaking the Reds in second are just shy of 50:50.
Even if Man Utd can defeat Liverpool, their chances of moving above Arsenal are slim due to the Gunners facing struggling Swansea and realistically only needing a point to fend off their rivals’ advances thanks to a far superior goal difference.
An even bigger swing in goal difference – a full 20 goals – would be necessary for Hull to leave the relegation zone this weekend, which unsurprisingly didn’t come up in any of the simulations I ran.