League 1 permutations: 17-18 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.

Sheffield United are safe at the top for now but there’s a three-way tussle for second place at the moment. Millwall can also be dislodged from sixth place this weekend although the Lions’ two games in hand over Southend mean that they’d be likely to reclaim it.

The relegation zone is a closed shop for now thanks to Oldham‘s five-point cushion, although this is a bit deceptive as Port Vale also have a few games in hand. With just two points separating the five clubs immediately above the drop zone, any of them could start next week alongside Vale.

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.

Fleetwood look likely to hold onto second place for now as they’re at home this weekend. With Scunthorpe away at highly-rated Oxford they’re far more likely to be overtaken by Bradford (who host struggling Swindon) than force their way into second.