Premier League permutations: 4-5 Feb 2017
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.
Chelsea are safe at the top with a nine-point lead – the real scrap is in the rest of the top four where fifth-placed Man City are only a point behind second-placed Tottenham.
Neither Man Utd, Everton or West Brom can move this weekend, but six different clubs can occupy the final two top half positions.
Both Hull and Sunderland are guaranteed to remain in the relegation zone but any of the four clubs above them could be joining them next week.
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.
Tottenham look pretty likely to hang on to second place for now, as they are at home to Middlesbrough while Arsenal visit Chelsea and Liverpool are also away (albeit at Hull).
Crystal Palace are at home to bottom side Sunderland while 17th-placed Swansea have to visit Man City, so there’s a roughly 50:50 chance of the Eagles escaping the relegation zone this weekend.