What’s still possible: 2 April 2018
Seeing as we’re fast approaching the business end of the season, and with all the talk about Manchester City being able to guarantee the title in their next match, it feels like the right time to look at what’s still possible – and likely – in each division. Therefore I’ve refreshed the charts I’ve been putting out for the last few seasons which show how much is still mathematically possible in each division and added in my model simulations to flag what’s actually likely to happen.
Note: this was calculated before the Easter Monday games kicked off, but the plan is to update it a few times before the season finishes.
A quick explanation
It’s prohibitively difficult to work out the impact of every possible combination of results using a normal household computer because there are way too many different permutations to crunch through. However, I’ve written some code that works out which fixtures can have an impact on where a team finishes and just simulates those, thereby saving a lot of time. I’m not the first to come up with something like this: there’s a really useful site – hasithappened.net – which has done something similar and was really handy for checking my results against. Also, if you’re not convinced by anything you see here then there’s a handy tool for each division here that you can use to manually check what’s possible.
The way the graphics work is pretty straightforward – I just took the version I created a few years ago, which have a bar stretching between each club’s highest and lowest possible finishes, and nested a minimalist chart of my latest model predictions inside each bar. The latter was based on this rather neat visualisation I saw a few weeks ago.
So Man City are nailed on for the title (there are no visible bars anywhere else), and it’s already mathematically impossible for them not to make the top four. While the top four race also looks pretty done and dusted, everyone as far down as Leicester in 8th can still sneak into a Champions League place if enough results went their way.
It’s also possible for Burnley and everyone below them to be relegated, and for all the teams from Bournemouth downwards to finish in last place.
While Wolves appear to have the title sewn up – and are the only club guaranteed at least a play-off finish – any of the current top 10 could still seal automatic promotion. Everyone else in the division – from Brentford downwards – is still technically capable of being relegated as it stands. Meanwhile, even 17th-placed Sheffield Wednesday could still make the play-offs if (an admittedly very unlikely) combination of results went in their favour.
Wigan and Blackburn are the only two clubs guaranteed a play-off place as it stands, but it’s possible for nine different clubs to claim one of the two automatic promotion places. Thanks to games in hand it’s still possible for Charlton and Plymouth to win the title (although both would surely gladly settle for a play-off place at this point).
With four relegation spots available, everyone from fifth-placed Scunthorpe downwards can mathematically still be relegated. Bottom side Bury are the only team who can’t still finish in the top half of the table, but even getting out of the relegation zone will be a tall order for the Shakers. Along with fellow strugglers Northampton, they’re the only two clubs for whom a play-off spot is now an impossibility.
Only Accrington and Luton are mathematically guaranteed a top half finish, although in practice both look pretty certain of automatic promotion at this stage. Anyone down to Carlisle in 10th could technically still claim the title, and there are three clubs – Newport, Cambridge and Crawley – who are theoretically capable of both automatic promotion and relegation.
Yeovil‘s games in hand mean that they can still finish anywhere between 4th place and rock bottom, while the current occupants of 24th place – Barnet – are the only club for whom a top half finish is now out of the question.