Chelsea 8-0 Aston Villa
Much was made of Chelsea's trip to the far east, the club world cup being hailed as a distraction from the premier league. As it turned out, Chelsea lost to Corinthians 0-1 in the final and a seemingly easy chance to win a trophy was spurned.
Tired Chelsea legs were up against a youthful Aston Villa side that were unbeaten in last six matches, including a 3-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield. Chelsea had already fallen way behind the Manchester clubs, who played their matches in Chelsea's absence.
Chelsea managed to win the game 8-0 thanks to superb performances from every player. For once, every trick, every move came-off. Seven different players managed to get on the score-sheet for Chelsea, including a brace from Ramires. Fernando Torres began the match in an energised fashion, directing a perfect header from Azpillicueta's cross in the third minute itself. Villa fought back but after David Luiz dispatched a Drogba-esque free-kick into the net, Villa must have shuddered. An expertly taken free-kick from Luiz laid the terms of the contest in no unclear terms.
For the third goal, Chelsea's defenders combined, as Cahill's shot was saved brilliant by Guzan, the Villa goalkeeper, Ivanovic reacted sharply to head home. Chelsea went into the half-time break 3-0 up and yet the commentators advised caution for Villa could fight back.
The Second half could not have been worse for the young side that Paul Lambert put out against the Blues. Chelsea plundered five more goals, thanks to Oscar, Hazard, Lampard and Ramires.
While the match itself demonstrated that Chelsea have got back to their menacing best, a few observations stand-out.
It was a given that Chelsea's attacking players were capable of producing nights like this against a side as inexperienced as Aston Villa, but it is the defensive play that deserves praise. Chelsea managed to keep a clean-sheet and the only time Petr Cech was called on to make a save, he did no expertly.
Fernando Torres has now scored seven goals in six matches and it is no coincidence that the barrage of goals from the Spaniard has come at a time when another Spaniard, Benitez is at the helm at Chelsea.
Many Chelsea fans have wanted to see Luiz play in the midfield, arguing that his passing credentials merit a place in front of the back four, rather than the back four itself. Luiz gave ample indications of growing into that role. HIs range of passing was excellent and he kept the grip on midfield for Chelsea.
Overall, Chelsea have gone back to the fluid side they have recently been but with an added touch of steel.
Bigger challenges await
Chelsea can only beat the teams put before them. Having said that, the challenges so far have been overcoming their inner contradictions rather then difficult opposition. So, in the busy Christmas period, the challenge is to maintain the rich vein of form, while translating solidity at the back into three points. It is only these points that count in the end. So, fans should not be overly worried if they see less than exhilirating performances during this period, as long as Chelsea win their matches and inch closer to the Manchester clubs.