League 1 permutations: 22 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.

The top five is a closed shop this weekend, leaving Millwall to defend sixth place from the clubs beneath them. Both Southend and Rochdale can elbow their way into the play-offs this weekend, which could set up a dramatic final round of games.

The relegation battle is also far from over, with Port Vale and Swindon still able to escape at the expense of Shrewsbury and Bury. Vale’s game in hand means that any of the six clubs above the drop zone is theoretically in danger (assuming that Charlton’s 27-goal advantage in goal difference isn’t surmountable).

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 Fleetwood realistically needing an away win and for Bolton to lose (given the gap in goal difference), it’s not likely that the Trotters will be surrendering second place tomorrow. Millwall also look to have a two-in-three chance of successfully defending sixth place with their two nearest challengers both on the road.

We’re unlikely to see any changes to the make-up of the bottom four, with both Port Vale and Swindon needing to defeat stronger opponents while hoping that Bury and Shrewsbury lose at home.