League 1 permutations: 25-26 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.

The first thing to point out is that neither Walsall nor Charlton are in action this weekend, so neither is unable to rise in the table.

The top two aren’t moving in either direction during this round of games thanks to the size of their respective points cushions, but third place can change hands and either Millwall or Bristol Rovers have a chance of dislodging Southend from the final play-off place.

The bottom three clubs aren’t able to leave the relegation zone this weekend but Port Vale can escape it at the expense of either Oldham or Shrewsbury.

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.

It’s very likely that Walsall and Charlton will sink during their respective absences this weekend as both are only narrowly ahead of the teams immediately beneath them.

With Bradford away at Scunthorpe, Fleetwood look relatively safe in third place for now despite being on the road themselves.

Southend‘s chances of successfully defending sixth place from Millwall – whom they lead on goal difference – this weekend are around 50:50, with both teams away from home but the Lions’ fixture looking a bit easier. Bristol Rovers‘ goal difference and three-point disadvantage means that there’s virtually no chance of them overtaking either.

At the bottom it would take some hefty scorelines to nudge Chesterfield above Swindon this weekend and Port Vale‘s chances of moving out of the drop zone look pretty slim: they’d need to beat MK Dons and hope for a home defeat for Shrewsbury to make it happen.