Chelsea made the perfect start to the festive period with a stunning 8-0 home win over Aston Villa to move into the Premier League top four.
Fernando Torres gave Rafael Benitez’s men a flying start with a sharp third-minute header before a David Luiz free-kick and Branislav Ivanovic header made sure the points were safe before half-time.
Two goals from Ramirez and strikes from Frank Lampard, Oscar and Eden Hazard completed the emphatic display after the break as the Blues matched their best ever Premier League result to move up to third in the table.
While this Christmas present may have been gift-wrapped by Villa, Chelsea were enthralling in their attacking movement and deadly finishing. It could have been even more had Lucas Piazon not been denied from the spot late on.
There are increasing signs that the European Champions are beginning to adapt to Rafael Benitez’s style and tactics, scoring 12 goals in a week, recording their first home league win since beating Norwich 4-1 on October 6 and matching their previous best league victory against Wigan on the last day of the 2009/10 season.
Torres wasted no time in pushing continuing his form revival, meeting right-back Cesar Azpilcueta’s cross with a perfectly timed leap and header that sent the ball into the top corner from 16 yards.
The Spaniard’s seventh league goal of the season immediately settled any nerves around the stadium and in the 29th minute the hosts were given a two-goal cushion.
Villa defender Chris Herd brought down Hazard 25 yards from goal and Luiz stepped up to slam a dipping free-kick over the wall and into goal from 25 yards.
Six minutes later, the result was all but put beyond doubt as the Villa defence fell asleep from a corner. Gary Cahill was allowed to turn and shoot in the box and after a reflex save from Brad Guzan, Ivanovic was quickest to react as he nodded home a simple header.
The Blues continued to press after the break and could have scored far more were it not for heroics from Guzan in the Villa goal, the American goalkeeper denying Juan Mata and Victor Moses with superb saves.
He could do nothing, however, about Chelsea’s fourth in the 59th minute. It was classic Lampard, a drilled half-volley from 30 yards that skipped off the turf and planted in the bottom corner of the Villa net.
At the other end, Petr Cech was a virtual spectator in the Chelsea goal but kept his concentration to divert Andreas Weimann’s shot for a corner.
Chelsea’s pressure, though, was relentless. Fifteen minutes from time, substitute Lucas Piazon slipped in Ramires, who drilled his finish through Guzan’s legs.
Referee Phil Dowd then awarded a penalty after Herd brought down Oscar in the box. The Brazilian playmaker stepped up to sweep the spot-kick into the top corner.
Hazard added the seventh in the 83rd minute with a sensation finish into the top corner from 10 yards.
Piazon missed the opportunity to make it eight as his penalty was saved by Guzan but Ramires soon added the final touch with a well-placed finish from the edge of the box.