Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made three changes from the Manchester United team that beat PSG in midweek, with Axel Tuanzebe relegated to the bench against Chelsea, instead reverting to the side that beat Newcastle last weekend.
After a disappointing start to the new season, United responded with a 4-1 victory at St James’ Park a week ago and then followed that up with a brilliant display in Paris in the Champions League.
Axel Tuanzebe was particularly impressive in that match, keeping Kylian Mbappe and Neymar quiet, while Alex Telles made his debut as a wingback and gave a very good account of himself in the 2-1 victory.
However, the Brazilian summer signing does not even make the squad for the visit of Chelsea while Tuanzebe is only on the bench; Anthony Martial started in Paris but is still suspended in the Premier League.
Solskjaer has therefore named the same side that beat Newcastle – with Harry Maguire, Dan James and Juan Mata all returning to the starting XI – and the Norwegian coach says the XI that won at St James’ Park all deserved to keep their place.
‘Sometimes you need to reward good performances,’ Solskjaer told MUTV when asked to explain his line-up.
‘Of course Tuesday night in Paris was also a good performance. We felt this team could kick on and give us a good foot-hold in the game, cause some problems for the opposition.
He added to Sky Sports: ‘Sometimes you know you have to reward players who play well, and there’s a few players there that really deserved to be in the team, and this setup was the best we felt.’
United’s players all reported to the Lowry hotel on Friday night and stayed together on the eve of the clash with Chelsea – something they had stopped doing after the restart last season – but Solskjaer feels it is important for team bonding.
He continued: ‘Yeah, we did [change preparation for a home game]. We stayed in a hotel. I’m sure the wives and girlfriends are not happy with me.
‘We want to stay together as a group, away at Newcastle, away in Paris, the atmosphere has been good.
‘Sometimes people tend to forget that it’s different, building a team. One of the strengths, always at Manchester United, is we’ve been a family.’