Championship permutations: 7 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.

Newcastle and Brighton have five and six-point cushions respectively, so neither are going anywhere for the time being, but Huddersfield can be overtaking by either of the two sides below them if they don’t beat Aston Villa.

The top six as a while is safe from incursion for the time being thanks to Sheffield Wednesday‘s six-point lead over Fulham, although the Cottagers have a game in hand.

The three clubs sitting just above the relegation zone can all get dragged into it if Bristol City can get a result at home to Norwich.

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.

With Leeds travelling to Fulham and Reading hosting Newcastle, Huddersfield are likely to hold on to third place for now. The Royals should also be worried about Sheffield Wednesday, who have a winnable-looking home game against Burton.

Bristol City look likelier to remain in the relegation zone than to escape it this evening, although if they were to draw and Wolves lost by more than a goal at Ipswich then they’d move up a place by virtue of having scored more goals than Paul Lambert’s side.