How much the league tables can change, 28 Sep – 1 Oct 2018
These graphics combine two different views of how the league table can change. The current order of the league table is shown on the left, and in each club’s row there is a hollow colour-coded strip showing how far they are mathematically capable of moving during the next round of fixtures, while inside the strip is a little minimalist column chart showing the relative probability of them ending up in each position (according to my predictive model).
A rematch between Chelsea and Liverpool gives Manchester City an excellent opportunity to edge their way into top spot. While Manchester United are only three points behind fourth-placed Watford, it’s impossible for Jose Mourinho’s side to reach the Champions League places this weekend due to the Hornets playing Arsenal. The visit of Tottenham – combined with Newcastle and Cardiff playing at home – suggests that it’ll be tough for Huddersfield to drag themselves out of the relegation zone this weekend.
Any of the current top seven could start next week at the summit, although in practice it’d be surprising to see anyone outside the top three managing it. The play-off places are also incredibly open with anyone down to 14th-placed Swansea mathematically capable of finishing the weekend in the top six. Bolton and QPR are the only two teams who can’t move into either promotion or relegation contention during their next match.
Peterborough’s four-point cushion means that they’re guaranteed to remain in the top two this weekend, but Portsmouth could be replaced by any of the three sides directly beneath them. At the opposite end of the table, Plymouth’s own four-point gap leaves them unable to exit the drop zone for the time being, but the company they’re keeping in the bottom four could change quite a bit, with Bristol Rovers one of four clubs who can get dragged into relegation danger.
While only two clubs are able to break into the automatic promotion places this weekend – and leaders Lincoln don’t look like they’re likely to be dislodged – the rest of the top half is incredibly fluid. Every team from 4th placed Colchester down to 15th-placed Crawley has a movement range of at least 11 league places and the Imps are the only members of the top 15 who can’t start next week in a play-off place. At the bottom, both Notts County and Macclesfield are able to move out of the relegation zone this weekend, although Grimsby’s tantalisingly winnable home game with fellow strugglers Morecambe means that the Silkmen would need both a victory and a favour from Jim Bentley’s side to do so.