Championship permutations: 17 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.

There’s still a battle going on for the lower two play-off places, with one out of Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham set to start next week outside the top six. The eight-point gap between the Cottagers and Derby looks unbridgeable with just four rounds of games remaining. At the bottom either Nottingham Forest or Burton could get dragged into the relegation zone if Blackburn beat Bristol City.

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.

To overtake Sheffield Wednesday, Fulham need to beat Aston Villa while QPR hold the Owls or Leeds lose at home to Wolves – far from impossible but still less likely to happen than not. Blackburn’s chances of moving clear of the relegation zone are slimmer still: they’d need to beat Bristol City while at least one of Forest and Burton failed to win.