League 1 permutations: 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.

l1-permutations-2017-02-11

Scunthorpe‘s seven-point lead over Bolton keeps the top two a closed shop for the time being, with Bradford‘s four-point cushion likewise ensuring that only Southend can be deposed from the top six this weekend.

A gap is opening up in lower mid-table, with Wimbledon having four points and two games in hand over fellow promotees Northampton.

The relegation zone can’t change all that much this weekend, with only Swindon able to be dragged into it for now and Coventry still rooted to the bottom.

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.

l1-probabilities-2017-02-11

With Sheffield United away at Peterborough, Scunthorpe‘s far more winnable-looking home game with Shrewsbury and better goal difference means that reclaiming top spot from the Blades isn’t that unlikely this weekend. If the leaders drew and the Iron won, that would be enough to send them top instead.

With Southend away at Millwall they only have around a one in three chance of remaining in the top six. Rochdale are level with them on points – although have a tough away game themselves at Fleetwood – but defeat for the Shrimpers would see their hosts overtake them.

With Swindon away at fellow strugglers Bury and Oldham at home to Coventry it could be another big week for the relegation battle. The Robins look likelier than not to be dragged into the bottom four.