Chelsea lock horns with Manchester United this weekend in a crucial Premier League battle for a top-four finish.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has confirmed a decision he made in the Europa League clash against Real Sociedad was influenced by this weekend’s match against Chelsea.
Thomas Tuchel’s side host United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, in a match that will be pivotal in the fight to secure a top-four finish and Champions League football next season.
While Chelsea had a week off in midweek, following last week’s victory over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League, United’s third-place finish in the group stages of Europe’s elite competition has resulted in a packed schedule with Europa League involvement.
Solskjaer’s side eased their way in the round of 16, with a goalless draw against Real Sociedad setting up a crunch double-header against AC Milan in March.
United had already done the hard work in their tie against the Spanish opposition, winning the first leg 4-0, and rested some key players in the game.
Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford both played 45 minutes in the tie before being withdrawn, with Solskjaer confirming that the decision was made in order to keep the pair fit and ready to take on Chelsea.
“Yes, I’ve got to say that they are very very fit athletes who recover well, normally they play every game for the full 90 minutes so today I was very pleased to get them 45 minutes each,” he said after the game.
“Forty-five minutes on a Thursday is good preparation for a Sunday, definitely better than no minutes and then maybe training too much tomorrow because they are eager, and they might over-cook it.
“I am very pleased with the two of them not having any injuries because that’s the risk I always take with playing them, minutes is fine, but every tackle or sprint, you’re a bit worried.”
Both sides are in a decent run of form in the Premier League and played out a goalless draw at Old Trafford in October.
Connect with Futball Surgery