Last season's FA Cup was a shock to the system for the English Premier League's Big Four, who failed to lift the trophy for the first time since 1995, but the odds point firmly towards normal service being resumed this year. The big clubs enter the competition at the third-round stage this weekend, and it is long odds-on the trophy will be won by one of the Big Four, with the HKJC odds showing 13.0 the field and only three other clubs under 20.0. Chelsea, who start their campaign at home to League One side Southend, head the market at 4.0, just ahead of Manchester United at 4.5. United visit Championship strugglers Southampton tomorrow, while Premiership leaders Liverpool, 6.0 to win the Cup, have the toughest task at Preston and 7.0 shots Arsenal host Plymouth. In the years of Big-Four domination from 1996 up to last season, Arsenal had the best record with four FA Cup triumphs, Chelsea and United won three times, and Liverpool lifted it twice. In those 12 years, the Big Four filled 17 of the 24 places available in the FA Cup final, so it is no surprise that they take out most of the market in the betting. A return to the status quo would be welcomed by those who thought the later stages of last year's competition lacked glamour, but those who hanker after the romance of the FA Cup would be disappointed to see the Big Four resume their domination of the competition. Clearly they have a huge advantage in terms of squad strength and size, but they could be vulnerable again to a one-off upset in the competition. One factor against them is the tightness of the Premier League title race and, with all four teams also still in the Champions League, the FA Cup could slip down the list of priorities as the season nears its climax. The teams most likely to stop the Big Four are those with a touch of class just below the elite. Outside the Big Four, the other four Premier League teams to reach the final since the turn of the millennium have finished sixth, eighth (twice) and ninth in the final league table. That points to Aston Villa and Everton - the best-placed teams outside the Big Four - as the main dangers, and the live outsiders include Fulham and West Ham, who both start against lower-league opposition. Yet the Big Four might be helped by the bunching below them in the Premier League table. The priority for most Premier League clubs is simply to remain among the elite and, with only 10 points covering the bottom 14 in the standings, no manager will be risking Premiership status to go in pursuit of FC Cup glory. Even though the Big Four have been given a favourable start against lower-league opposition, every Premier League team will be more wary after last season's upsets, which were topped by Barnsley (a mid-table Championship side), winning at Liverpool and following up with a home victory over Chelsea. Of the 19 Premier League clubs knocked out of last season's competition, 10 went out to lower-league teams (seven from the Championship and three from League One). The other Premier League teams drawn against Championship opposition in the third round are Manchester City (home to Nottingham Forest), holders Portsmouth (home to Bristol City), Fulham (away to Sheffield Wednesday) and West Ham, who host last season's giant-killers Barnsley. Chelsea, Stoke (away to Hartlepool) and West Brom (home to Peterborough) face League One opposition, while the easiest draws (as well as most scope for embarrassment) have been handed to Aston Villa and Everton (respectively away to Gillingham and Macclesfield of League Two) and to Middlesbrough and Blackburn (who face non-league Barrow and Blyth Spartans respectively). The only Premier League team available at odds-against in a match-up versus lower-league opposition is Fulham, who are notoriously bad travellers and have already been knocked out of the Carling Cup when visiting a Championship team (Burnley). Sheffield Wednesday are just an average mid-table Championship side, however, and are several notches below the standard of opposition Fulham usually face on their travels. Several of the Premier League teams - including Arsenal, high-scoring Manchester City, Aston Villa and Everton - will be popular in All Up betting, but for individual match bets it might be best to look further down the league ladder. Last season teams from the top half of the Championship won all seven ties against teams below them (either in the bottom half of the Championship or in a lower league) and two such teams catch the eye at reasonable odds today. Sheffield United, sixth in the Championship, can enhance their good FC Cup pedigree with victory at Leyton Orient, who are in the relegation zone in League One. Orient are the lowest home scorers in the division and will need to improve to hold United. Crystal Palace, eighth in the Championship, have a more difficult task at League One leaders Leicester City but look good at even-money on the handicap. FA Cup third round fixtures Today: Arsenal v Plymouth, Birmingham v Wolves, Cardiff v Reading, Charlton v Norwich, Cheltenham v Doncaster, Chelsea v Southend, Coventry v Kidderminster, Forest Green v Derby, Histon v Swansea, Ipswich v Chesterfield, Hartlepool v Stoke, Hull v Newcastle, Kettering v Eastwood, Leicester v Crystal Palace, Leyton Orient v Sheffield United, Macclesfield v Everton, Manchester City v Nottingham Forest, Middlesbrough v Barrow, Portsmouth v Bristol City, Preston v Liverpool, QPR v Burnley, Millwall v Crewe, Sheffield Wednesday v Fulham, Sunderland v Bolton, Torquay v Blackpool, Watford v Scunthorpe, West Brom v Peterborough, West Ham v Barnsley. Tomorrow: Gillingham v Aston Villa, Southampton v Manchester United. Monday: Blyth Spartans v Blackburn. Shortlist Crystal Palace, Sheffield United, Fulham, Bilbao. Last week No winning bets out of three. Form Fact On the last two occasions when Manchester United faced lower-league opposition in the third round, they were held 0-0 both times (by Exeter and Burton).