Premier League and Championship: a quick look at the run-in
First of all, apologies for having gone a bit quiet since the football was suspended. It’s been partly due to a lot of my regular content revolving around matches, but also due to a lot of extra work in my day job to adapt to the lack of sport.
With the Premier League and Championship starting up again soon I thought it would be worth breaking out the run-in analysis I’d normally create at this stage of the season. What I’ve done below for both divisions is to colour-code each team’s remaining fixtures by their opponents’ current league position.
I appreciate that this isn’t the most sophisticated way of dividing up the table, but it’s the most transparent as it doesn’t rely on a mathematical model of some sort. Even if some of the categories are up for debate, I think it still provides a useful comparison of what each team still has to deal with.
First of all here’s the Premier League, where I’ve split out the current top and bottom six clubs. I appreciate that excluding Sheffield United from the top six on goal difference when they’ve got a game in hand is a bit controversial, but I had to draw the line somewhere. It makes a bit more sense at the bottom where the lowest six teams are at least five points adrift of the rest.
Wolves have a great chance to build some early momentum – and potentially rotate their team a bit – as they face three of the bottom six in a row during the rest of June. With the four teams currently sitting from 3rd to 6th facing each other in their last scheduled games, the Champions League race could be settled on the final day.
At the bottom, Bournemouth have a tough job ahead as they’ve already played all of their relegation ‘six pointers’. Villa also have a tough few weeks ahead, so Norwich – who don’t face anyone currently higher than 9th until the last three games – have a great chance to close the gap between themselves and safety.
Here’s the same chart for the Championship, with the division partitioned into three groups of eight for symmetry. This makes more sense at the bottom where there’s a five-point gap between Birmingham and Stoke.
The first thing that jumps out at me is Derby having no matches left against teams currently sitting in 17th or lower; they’re the only club without a blue box in their row, so could easily find themselves slipping into the bottom half. Millwall meanwhile are in the opposite camp: they’re the only team with no red games against the current top eight, so perhaps a surge into the play-offs is on the cards?
With four of Leeds’ last seven fixtures pitting them against clubs currently occupying the lower third of the table, they could have an edge in the title race. However it could depend on how fiercely their opponents are fighting for survival at the time, as others with nothing to play for may decide to coast through the remainder of the campaign.