League 2 permutations: 10-11 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 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.

l2-permutations-2017-02-11

The top three are fixed in position this weekend, although with Carlisle only four points ahead of in-form Exeter they shouldn’t be resting on their laurels.

The Grecians are the only side currently in the play-off zone who are guaranteed to still be in it on Sunday morning, with Mansfield able to displace any of the other three.

Kevin Nolan may not think that his Notts County side are in a relegation battle, but the reality is that it’s possible for them to be sitting bottom of the pile next 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.

l2-probabilities-2017-02-11

Exeter‘s goal difference means that a point at Plymouth is probably enough to keep them above Luton, so the model gives them a roughly two-in-three chance of remaining fourth.

Mansfield‘s chances of breaking into the play-offs this weekend aren’t great (4+23=27%). Winning at home to Hartlepool looks relatively achievable, but they also need Portsmouth to lose at home to Accrington thanks to Pompey’s far superior goal difference.

Newport need a win at home to leaders Doncaster this evening to stand a chance of leaving the relegation zone this weekend, but they also need Notts County to lose at home to Cheltenham and Leyton Orient not to win at Yeovil. This combination has a pretty slim chance of happening: only around 8%.