Manchester City can put neighbours in shade again and retain title

Manchester City can retain their Premier League crown, once again at the expense of neighbours United, and even in the wake of last season’s top scorer Robin van Persie linking up with Golden Boot runner-up Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford I still fancy The Citizens to take the momentum from last season’s last-gasp title win.

City boss Roberto Mancini has only added Everton midfielder Jack Rodwell so far, but why upset a happy unit and add unnecessarily to the league’s strongest squad?

Fergie’s unwavering loyalty to certain players such as Giggs, 
Scholes and Evra may be his Achilles heel – even Spurs and Chelsea have stronger midfields than United, unthinkable in the Beckham/Keane era.

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As for City (13/10 Coral), even hotheads like Balotelli and Tevez realise they are not indispensable and if those two give 100 per cent this season the Premier League trophy will be in sky blue ribbons come May.

In the English Championship, I make this between Leicester and Bolton who both have depth in their squad, with just a preference for the Foxes. Leicester (17/2 general) will be more streetwise and settled this campaign, while the front duo of 
Nugent and Beckford were clicking toward the last third of last season and that could spell trouble for the rest.

In League One, MK Dons (8/1 general) without the likes of Charlton, Huddersfield or Sheffield Wednesday in the division, can finally gain promotion. The ambitious club have made 
Alan Smith’s move from Newcastle a permanent one and look a decent bet for the title.

In League Two, everything looks in place for big-spending Rotherham (4/1 Hills) to finish top of the pile under Scots boss Steve Evans.

A watching brief is advised betting-wise this weekend as new squads need time to gel and fitness levels need to peak. Try a small yankee on Birmingham to beat Charlton (10/11), Nottingham Forest to beat Bristol City (5/6), Bournemouth to beat Portsmouth (5/4) and United to win the Dundee derby (8/15).

Meanwhile, those looking for some alternative bets for the season might be tempted by an each-way punt on Everton’s Nikica Jelavic to land the Golden Boot (33/1 Coral) and West Brom to be relegated from the English top flight (9/2 general). The season’s best bet though looks like Barnsley to be relegated from the Championship (13/8 Hills). Barcelona to win La Liga (5/4 general) is another to consider.