Premier League permutations: 4-6 Mar 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.

2017-03-04-pl-permutations

Chelsea’s ten-point advantage will take some chipping away at, but three different clubs can occupy second place after this weekend’s fixtures. The third of these – Arsenal – could also drop as low as sixth if results go against them.

At the bottom the relegation battle remains just as open as the race for the top four, with nobody guaranteed to start next week in the bottom three and any of the six lowest-placed clubs capable of ending up there.

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.

2017-03-04-pl-probabilitiesWith Man Utd’s home game against Bournemouth looking far more winnable than Liverpool‘s clash with Arsenal does for either team, there’s a good chance that United can move above one of those two this weekend.

While it’s mathematically possible for Sunderland to move out of the bottom three here, their awful goal difference and the visit of Man City make it very unlikely.