Premier League permutations: 5-8 May 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.

It’s going to be a pretty quiet week at the top of the table, apart from the two Manchester clubs vying for a top four spot. Similarly at the bottom the only movement possible is between Hull and Swansea, battling to stay out of the relegation zone.

Lower mid-table is an absolute free-for-all by comparison, with only three points separating Southampton in 9th from Palace in 16th. However with Bournemouth playing Stoke, one of them would prevent Sam Allardyce’s side rising all the way to 9th place.

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.

City look relatively safe in the top four for now: they’re a point ahead of United and have a much easier game this weekend.

With Southampton travelling to Anfield they look likely to drop into the congested bottom half of the table should Bournemouth and Leicester make the most of their winnable-looking home games.

Hull are at home to Sunderland so should be able to successfully fend off any challenge from Swansea at the bottom. The Swans are two points behind so only a win – and a favour from the Black Cats – will do at the moment.