League 1 permutations: 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 possible for Scunthorpe to reclaim second place from Fleetwood this weekend but otherwise there’s not too much movement possible in the top six.

Millwall aren’t playing due to their participation in the FA Cup and their scheduled opponents Sheffield United have the weekend off as a result. The leaders’ eight-point advantage – and the Lions’ own four-point cushion – mean that neither’s league position will suffer in their absence.

There’s likewise little fluidity in the relegation zone right now, with both Chesterfield and Coventry wedged into their current positions and only Swindon capable of leaving the bottom four on Saturday.

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.

Even though Southend have a tough away game at Bristol Rovers this weekend, they’re likely to retain their hold on seventh place thanks to a healthy goal difference. Walsall need a win at Charlton – and for Rovers to take maximum points to overtake the Shrimpers.

While Swindon can escape the relegation zone this weekend, they need to win at fellow strugglers Port Vale and hope that Oldham lose at home to Bury. Both games definitely count as six-pointers in my book, so it could be a dramatic weekend.