Premier League permutations: 31 Jan – 1 Feb 2017

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 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.


Not only are Chelsea still immovable from top spot, but both Everton and West Brom are stuck in position too for this round of fixtures.

Beneath the Blues only Arsenal are assured of remaining in the top four, although Tottenham actually look pretty safe from being displaced by Man City as we’ll see below.

The relegation battle remains tight with nobody guaranteed to remain in the bottom three, although only Swansea can be dragged into the drop zone this week.

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.


Arsenal‘s winnable-looking home game with Watford means that they have an 80% chance of holding on to second place for now, particularly given that Tottenham are away (albeit at Sunderland) and Liverpool face leaders Chelsea.

With Watford travelling to the Emirates, Burnley are likely to remain in their current spot or higher, with a Hornets win necessary to displace them. Even a draw for the Clarets at home to Leicester – hardly unlikely given their respective fortunes – would probably keep them above Watford on goal difference if the Gunners suffered a shock defeat.

While it’s possible for either Sunderland or Hull to move out of the bottom three this week, there’s a smaller than 10% chance that one of them will (3+6=9%). The Black Cats need to beat Spurs while Swansea lose at home to Southampton, while the Tigers would need to win at Old Trafford.