Premier League permutations: 25-27 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.

2017-02-25-pl-permutations

With Manchester United and Southampton‘s fixtures postponed due to their involvement in the EFL Cup final, neither can move up the table. However the Saints’ scheduled opponents Arsenal could move up a place if Stoke were to stun Tottenham at home.

The relegation battle remains wide open, with nobody guaranteed to be sitting lower than 16th, never mind in the bottom three. Both the top four and relegation battles could be shaped on Monday when newly-managerless Leicester hosting Liverpool.

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.

2017-02-25-pl-probabilities

A win for Tottenham at home to Stoke – who have struggled against the top teams this season – means that they’re likely to sidle above Man City, who sit this round of fixtures out.

Arsenal are also not in action this weekend and are 50:50 to remain in the top four based on the chances of Liverpool beating Leicester on Monday.

Sunderland only have a slim chance of moving out of the relegation zone as they’d need to beat Everton at Goodison Park and hope that most of the teams above them have bad weekends.