Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handed debuts to new boys Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Harry Maguire with James left on the bench while his opposite number Frank Lampard opted to start without United States international Christian Pulisic, but did name youngster Mason Mount in his line up.
CHELSEA SUBS: Willy Caballero, Kenedy, Fikayo Tomori, Christian Pulisic, Marcos Alonso, N’Golo Kante, Olivier Giroud.
CHELSEA STARTING XI (4-2-3-1): Kepa Arrizabalaga; Cesar Azpilicueta, Andreas Christensen, Kurt Zouma, Emerson; Jorginho, Mateo Kovacic; Pedro, Ross Barkley, Mason Mount; Tammy Abraham.
MANCHESTER UNITED SUBS: Sergio Romero, Juan Mata, Ashley Young, Axel Tuanzebe, Nemanja Matic, Mason Greenwood, Daniel James.
MANCHESTER UNITED STARTING XI (4-2-3-1): David de Gea; Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw; Scott McTominay, Paul Pogba; Andreas Pereira, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial; Marcus Rashford.
The visitors were the better team in the early exchanges and will argue the opening goal came against the run of play.
Referee Anthony Taylor played advantage following a foul by Jorginho and in the next phase of play Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma was adjudged to have fouled Rashford in the box.
Following a short consultation with the video assistant referee, Taylor pointed to the spot and Rashford made no mistake.
The goal galvanised United who improved after taking the lead, but it was Chelsea who came closest to scoring when left-back Emerson Palmieri rattled David De Gea’s crossbar.