Premier League permutations: 1-2 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.

Neither top spot nor a place in the top four can be lost during this weekend’s games, thanks to Chelsea‘s healthy lead and a four-point gap between Liverpool and Man Utd.

West Brom are guaranteed to remain wedged in eighth place for at least another two weeks thanks to a seven-point gulf in both directions. but beneath them plenty of movement is possible.

At the bottom it’s possible for Swansea to be dragged back into the relegation zone and for Sunderland to move off the foot of the table at Middlesbrough‘s expense.

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.

With Liverpool at home – admittedly in the Merseyside derby – and Manchester City visiting the Emirates, the Reds have a roughly 50:50 chance of nudging their way into third place this weekend.

A winnable home game for Manchester United against West Brom means that their fifth place should be safe from an Arsenal challenge for the time being.

It’s very unlikely for Swansea to exchange places with Hull in 18th this weekend. Not only do the Swans have an easier fixture (at home to struggling Middlesbrough while the Tigers face West Ham), but it’d take a six-goal swing in goal difference to displace them.