League 1 permutations: 1 Apr 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.

We’re two game short this week, with the top and bottom clubs not in action along with both Oxford and Bury, which is why they’re unable to rise.

The battle for third remains close but the play-off race itself is calming down lately, with only Millwall mathematically able to break into the top six for now.

At the bottom the final relegation place could be occupied by any of five different clubs from 18th-placed Oldham down to Swindon in 22nd come Saturday evening.

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 pretty secure in 3rd place for now: they’re likely to defeat struggling Swindon at home while Scunthorpe have a tough trip to Millwall and Bradford would need a win combined with a Cod Army defeat (and a four-goal swing) to overtake them.

With the three clubs immediately beneath them all at home, Oxford are likely to fall at least one place this weekend. However Bury stand a good chance of remaining in 17th as their nearest challengers all have tough away matches.

A tricky game against Wimbledon means that escape from the drop zone isn’t all that likely for Port Vale. If they can manage a win then Shrewsbury are their most probable victim.