League 2 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.

Portsmouth are finally into third after months of my model tipping them to make the breakthrough, but both Carlisle and Luton can displace them from an otherwise immobile top three this weekend.

There are also possible membership changes in the play-off zone, with both Mansfield and Colchester able to barge their way into the top seven if results go their way on Saturday.

Notts County‘s five-point cushion means that the bottom two are stuck where they are for now, but plenty of movement is possible just above the relegation zone.

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.

Portsmouth look marginally likelier than not to retain third place this weekend – their superior goal difference means that Carlisle have to win to overtake them despite only being a point behind.

With Stevenage travelling to high-flying Luton it’s far more probable that they’ll fall than rise this weekend. Exeter are at home to struggling Accrington (although the model still rates Stanley as a good side) and therefore look well-placed to take advantage of a Boro slip.

Notts County host Hartlepool, who are immediately above them in the table, and are therefore in the rare situation where it’s far likelier for them to move up several places than just one.