Championship permutations: 10-11 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.

It’s mathematically possible for Brighton to wrest top spot from Newcastle‘s grasp this weekend but, as we’ll see below, it’s pretty unlikely.

A more realistic twist in the promotion race would be for Leeds to edge ahead of Huddersfield, but the top six as a whole is a closed shop for now thanks to Sheffield Wednesday‘s five-point lead over Fulham.

The relegation battle has intensified lately and the five clubs immediately above stricken Rotherham could start next week alongside the Millers in the bottom three.

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 Newcastle‘s goal difference 11 healthier than Brighton‘s and three points between them, it would take an incredibly unlikely swing to move the Seagulls back to the summit this weekend.

A successful Leeds assault on Huddersfield-held third place is also improbable, even though United are at home and the Terriers away. The three-point gap would require both a Leeds win and a Huddersfield defeat for the former’s goal difference advantage to kick in.

With Wolves at home to Rotherham it’s likelier that Blackburn – away at Norwich – will get dragged into the bottom three if there’s a winner in the pivotal game between Wigan v Bristol City.