It might appear that, given the spirited performance by the Welsh in Paris, it would be foolish to assume that England's final game in Cardiff will be a walkover. With a points difference of +68, however, against France's +22, victory for the home side at Twickenham would make a third successive title all but math- ematically certain, since even the Scots are unlikely to concede upwards of 40 points to the French at the Parc des Princes two weeks later. An all but forgotten competition called the FA Carling Premiership returns this week, with vital matches on both Wednesday and Saturday, and the credential of Manchester United, the clear favourites, will be under particularly close scrutiny. Two visits to the capital in four days pit the champions against Arsenal and Chelsea, and six points would push United to long odds-on from their present 11-10.
Two points or less, though, would bring about yet another upheaval in the prices, since Liverpool should collect the maximum return from home games against Leeds and Blackburn without much fuss.
Despite squandering a two-goal advantage in their FA Cup encounter with Leicester yesterday, Chelsea, still appeal as the premiership value. The pre-season 25-1 is now down to 12-1, but single figure odds beckon if they beat Manchester United next weekend.
FIVE NATIONS' CHAMPIONSHIP: 4-9 England (Ladbrokes), 2-1 France (Tote).
FA CARLING PREMIERSHIP: Best odds: 11-10 Man Utd (C, H), 3-1 Liverpool (C, H, L, T), 9-2 Newcastle Utd (L), 11-2 Arsenal (T), 12-1 Chelsea (C ,L), 50-1 Aston Villa (H, L, T), 80-1 Wimbledon (C).
FA CUP (William Hill): 2-1 Chelsea, 7-2 Wimbledon, 5-1 Sheffield Wednesday, 10-1 Derby County, 11-1 Coventry, Middlesbrough, 20-1 Leicester, Portsmouth, 25-1 Chesterfield, 33-1 Wrexham.
C - Coral, H - Hills, L - Ladbrokes, T - Tote.Reuse content