Carrick guided the Red Devils to victory at Villarreal as interim manager following Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sacked last Sunday.
And what appears to be his final game in charge before Ralf Rangnick replaces him, the former United midfielder has opted to make a statement by dropping the Portuguese superstar.
It is just the fourth time Ronaldo has started from the bench in a league game in nine seasons.
Perhaps in an effort to firstly stop the Blues, Carrick has gone for Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho to lead the line, providing in theory more of a threat on the counter-attack.
The move also provides a free role for Bruno Fernandes, with Nemanja Matic, Fred and Scott McTominay shielding the United back line.
It is just the second time all three midfielders have started in the Premier League.
Carrick told Sky Sports: “A few tweaks and changes to freshen things up, of course Cristiano is the standout name, but it’s just a game plan and idea. I had a good chat with Cristiano, we decided to go with that.
“It’s a decision to pick a team to be honest, I don’t think it needs more than that. Everybody has been terrific, Cristiano included, he’s ready to come on if needed to come and win the game. We’ve come with a plan, we’re happy with the team we’ve picked and we’re looking forward to the game.
“That’s your opinion [that the United line-up is designed to stop Chelsea], we’ve come here looking forward to the game and trying to win the game. It’s a tough game, obviously, Chelsea are playing ever so well. A great run of games and some massive results, but it’s one we’re relishing. We’ve had a good week considering the situation.
“We had two games to prepare the team, me and my staff, that’s the ideas we’ve got and the plan we’ve gone with.”
Chelsea XI: Mendy, Chalobah, Rüdiger, Silva, Jorginho, Alonso, Loftus-Cheek, James, Hudson-Odoi, Werner, Ziyech
Chelsea subs: Barkley, Christensen, Mount, Arrizabalaga, Ñíguez, Lukaku, Havertz, Pulisic, Azpilicueta
Manchester United XI: De Gea, Bailly, Lindelöf, Wan-Bissaka, Telles, McTominay, Matic, Fred, Bruno Fernandes, Sancho, Rashford
Manchester United subs: Henderson, Martial, Jones, Mata, Lingard, Ronaldo, Greenwood, Dalot, Van de Beek