Until the removal of automatic entry to the Uefa Cup for its winner, the Coca-Cola was often a very attractive betting medium. The bookmakers would always install the biggest sides as favourites, but it was generally a team from the middle of the Premiership, fully aware that the competition was their best chance of getting into Europe, who would emerge victorious. The loss - for the moment at least - of the European ticket makes it more difficult to assess the commitment of the sides who remain, although on third-round form, no one in their right mind will stake a penny on Arsenal.
The Gunners did everything they could to lose against Birmingham but won in extra time. A similar lack of commitment against Coventry is likely to be punished more severely, and even at 13-2 (Super Soccer), they make no appeal.
Liverpool made a better fist of their third-round match, but again, with no place in Europe to play for, their ultimate will to win must be in doubt.
There are two very interesting possibilities: Derby, who face Newcastle at Pride Park, are an excellent bet at 10-1, as are West Ham. The Hammers will surely beat Walsall on Wednesday and, if they can get a another home draw, would be fancied to beat any of the remaining sides on the way to the semi-finals.
COCA-COLA CUP: Best odds: 7-2 Liverpool (L); 11-2 Chelsea (H, C); 13- 2 Arsenal (S); 8-1 Leeds (H), Newcastle (L); 10-1 Derby (H, C), West Ham (H, C); 20-1 Coventry (H); 25-1 Bolton (L, S), Southampton (H), Middlesbrough (S); 33-1 Ipswich (S); 40-1 Oxford (L, H, S); 100-1 Reading (L); 150-1 Grimsby (L, H), Walsall (H).
C Coral, H Hills, L Ladbrokes, S Super Soccer (the Tote and many independent bookmakers).Reuse content