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Fergie's stolen a march on rivals with summer swoop for 'RVP'

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 06, 2012

BRITT POP: Southend United will do well to keep Britt Assombalonga

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I KNOW MANY people who have a flutter each year, but I'm not brave enough to pick the winners of all four divisions AND put my money where my mouth is at the start of the season.

But we're coming up to the halfway stage now, and you can have a good crack at picking the champions of the Premier League, the Championship, League One and League Two on the evidence so far.

Premier League – for me it's Manchester United, no argument.

United and City are already clear – they meet at the Etihad this Sunday – and I really think you can forget the rest.

Nobody can predict what will happen at Chelsea between now and May, and all Roman Abramovich will be worrying about is making sure they qualify for the Champions League again.

Spurs may well finish third – they seem to be getting it together a bit, now that 'AVB' has got his feet under the table.

But for the champions, I can't look further than United.

Sir Alex Ferguson has stolen a big march on City with his signing of Robin Van Persie.

You look at some of the players that Roberto Mancini has signed – Sinclair, Maicon, Rodwell, Javi Garcia – and you can't help asking 'Are they going to win City the title again? You ask the same question about 'RVP', and the answer has got to be a 'Yes'.

I know City haven't lost yet, but going out of the Champions League so tamely must have been a real blow to them.

You don't feel the same vibes coming out of the Etihad as last season and even if they beat United on Sunday, I'll still fancy Fergie's men to take the title.

I don't think they've hit top form yet, but that's never a worry at this time of year, because they're past masters at getting it right when they really need to.

For me, the hardest division to call is the Championship.

Cardiff City and Crystal Palace have done brilliantly to be where they are, but I can't quite see them winning it.

Cardiff have won every home game so far, which takes some doing, but something about the size of the club and past history puts me off them.

If Palace can get through January without losing Zaha, they'll be doing well. And I'm not sure their squad has quite enough depth to take them all the way.

I do respect Middlesbrough under Tony Mowbray, and it's always dangerous to write off Neil Warnock at Leeds, especially if their finances allow him to buy in January.

But I'll go for Leicester City.

They're close enough to the top-two, they don't concede too many goals and Nigel Pearson has possibly the best squad of all.

I can't see Tranmere or Doncaster having enough about them to win League One.

MK Dons look good for the Play-Offs, but I'll go for Sheffield United for the title.

They don't lose many, Danny Wilson has been there before and done it and their crowds will allow the board to sign a player or two if they need it in March.

Watch out for Notts County, under Keith Curle and Colin Lee, as possible outsiders.

I can't look further than Gillingham in our League Two.

I know we beat them at Plainmoor, but I look at their squad – I think they will improve it in January – and the points they've already got and they will be difficult to catch.

I've said before that I fancy Southend to finish in the top-three.

They are the strongest team we've played so far, and we've not been beaten up by anyone else this season.

I see that their young striker Assombalonga didn't play for them in the FA Cup last weekend, which doesn't bode well for Watford letting them keep him when his loan runs out in January, but Paul Sturrock still has enough to keep them going.

As for ourselves, I'm certainly not going to burden us with any predictions.

We've got ourselves into a decent position – I'll say no more than that..!

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