This season Stamford Bridge has been nothing like a fortress.
West Ham, Bournemouth, Southampton and Manchester United have all taken three points on visits to SW6.
Before this one-sided, free-flowing 4-0 hammering of a hapless Everton on Sunday Chelsea had scored just 18 of their 47 Premier League goals at home – the lowest percentage of any top-flight side.
But Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Liverpool in the FA Cup seems to have flipped a switch. Frank Lampard’s squad is thin on the ground at the moment due to injuries and suspensions. But for the unfamiliar names on the substitutes’ bench, you wouldn’t have known it.
Almost all season Chelsea’s grip on fourth place has appeared loose. A complete thrashing of a side who had previously seemed revitalised under Carlo Ancelotti was the perfect way of reestablishing the gap, which stood at five points before Manchester United’s win over rivals City cut it to three.
Olivier Giroud has always been viewed as a useful commodity at Chelsea, a back-up target man to deploy when other players are unavailable and other tactical systems are not working.
Giroud was courting prospective new clubs in the January transfer window, but Chelsea would only allow him to leave if they sourced a replacement. They must be glad that eventuality didn’t come to pass now.
The veteran Frenchman was at the heart of the Blues’ dominance on Sunday, bullying Michael Keane to provide a valuable focal point to their attacks.
While it was Ross Barkley’s pass which sent Pedro through to effectively kill the game off 21 minutes in, it was Giroud’s expert lay-off which joined the dots.
With Everton completely demoralised the 33-year-old got the goal his game deserved in the second half, losing Mason Holgate to poke in Willian’s deep cross from a short corner and make it 4-0.
As good as Chelsea were – and this was one of their best performances of the season – they were given more than a helping hand by their opposition.
Everton were shockingly poor right from the off. The Toffees had scored in all 10 Premier League games under Ancelotti, taking 18 points from a possible 30 – a return bettered only by Liverpool and Manchester City. But the Italian’s Midas touch deserted him on his return to a former stomping ground.
Ancelotti’s chosen 4-4-2 formation was easily outflanked by Chelsea, whose midfield three of Billy Gilmour, Mason Mount and Barkley had a field day.
When they weren’t bouncing passes around Tom Davies and Andre Gomes, the Blues were happily bypassing them by playing crossfield balls out to the wings.
The outstanding Mount opened the scoring with a pure strike on the turn before Barkley intelligently slid through Pedro to net his first league goal of the season minutes later.
Chelsea came out of the blocks looking for more of the same after the break, and they quickly got it.
Everton stood off Willian and were punished by the Brazilian’s powerful low drive by into the bottom corner before Giroud stabbed home in the 54th minute to prompt many of the travelling Everton fans to begin their journey home.
With the game won, Lampard took the opportunity to show off and further establish his credentials as a manager who gives youngsters chances.
On came 20-year-old full-back Reece James to show he can play holding midfield. Next it was the turn of 18-year-olds Faustino Anjorin, a midfielder, and forward Armando Broja.
The day could hardly have got better, but when Gilmour charged forward and squared for Anjorin it looked like it might.
Only a last-ditch sliding tackle from Djibril Sidibe prevented a perfect ending to a memorable day at Stamford Bridge.