League 1 permutations: 14 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.

With Shrewsbury and Millwall‘s fixture bumped to early April, neither can rise in the table in midweek. The Lions are still four points clear of Southend and therefore can’t sink either, but the four clubs ahead of them can all exchange places freely.

At the bottom only Port Vale can escape the relegation zone on Tuesday night, with both Bury and Oldham able to be dragged beneath them.

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.

Shrewsbury may not be playing but they’re roughly twice as likely to remain in 18th as they are to sink. This is due to both the sides capable of overtaking them – Bury and Oldham – playing highly-rated sides in Bristol Rovers and Oxford respectively.

Port Vale need to win at Northampton and (realistically, given goal difference) for Oldham to lose at home in order to move out of the drop zone. The six-goal swing they’d need in addition to a Bury defeat means that the chances of the Shakers sinking into the bottom four are vanishingly small.