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Chelsea may rest stars for cup - Hoddle

Former Tottenham and Chelsea manager Glenn Hoddle believes current Blues boss Roberto di Mateo may field a weakened team when his former sides meet at Wembley for an FA Cup semi-final on Sunday.

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Chelsea's attempt to get the Spurs match moved to Saturday, to allow extra time to prepare for a Champions League semi-final against Barcelona in midweek, failed, and Hoddle fears the Blues will opt to split their resources.

"The biggest problem for Chelsea is the Sunday 6 o'clock kick of is not very helpful with such a big Champions League tie at the Bridge against Barcelona," Hoddle told ESPNsoccernet.

"Had it been an early afternoon kick off it would have been different, but it must be running through Robbie's mind to play a weakened team in the sense that one or two key players will be held back as long as possible for Barcelona.

"It will still be a strong team and with their newly regained belief, they are still going to be a tough nut for Spurs to crack, but Robbie will not want to risk extra time and even penalties."

Hoddle, who twice won the FA Cup as Spurs player and was runner-up as Chelsea manager in 1994, claims the semi-final is still "delicately poised" between the two London clubs and will be closely fought, especially given the recent change in form and fortunes of either side.

"If I had to sum it all up, I would say that I would have gone for Spurs three months ago, but perhaps I'm not so sure now," the former England manager said. "Maybe even seven weeks ago, it would have been a relatively easy game to predict, it would have gone Spurs' way.

"But only a few weeks ago, there were so many doubts around the Bridge, around [sacked manager] AVB [Andre Villas-Boas], no one seemed happy, the spirit was down, deflated, the results terrible, while Spurs were buoyant, playing some terrific, fantastic football and their season was a high.

"If ever it was true that football can turn around in a matter of weeks, even days, it was true of these two teams. Suddenly it's Spurs who are deflated.

"Whereas there were doubts in the minds of the Chelsea players, that has turned around, and now there are doubts in the minds of the Tottenham players and Chelsea are on a high. However, this is cup football and anything can happen.

"Spurs have great cup traditions, they have always been a fantastic Cup side, a fabulous heritage of cup football, great traditions in the Cup, and there is no bigger stage to lay to rest all the doubts about the team than in a cup semi-final at Wembley."

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*Glenn Hoddle is Technical Director of 20-20 football. 20-20 football are holding the Fallen Heroes Trophy (in aid of Help 4 Heroes) and the Elite Legends Cup; Chelsea (holders of London Legend Cup), Manchester United, Arsenal and hosts QPR at Loftus Road on Sunday May 20. Tickets on sale from QPR on line or call 08444 777 007


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