Eden Hazard and Fernando Torres applied the gloss to a workman-like 2-0 victory at Hull City that lifted Chelsea ominously to the top of the Premier League on Saturday.
In true Jose Mourinho style, the Londoners first nullified the minimal threat posed by Hull, then cut through at will after the break when classy goals by Hazard and Torres earned the Blues a fourth consecutive league victory.
Mourinho’s in-form side have 46 points, one more than second-placed Arsenal, who visit Aston Villa today, and two ahead of Manchester City, who were to travel to Newcastle United yesterday.
“Do we like to be leaders? Yes, we like, but maybe tomorrow we are second and maybe Monday we are third,” Mourinho told reporters.
Champions Manchester United remained in seventh place, nine points behind Chelsea, but at least got back to winning ways with a 2-0 home defeat of Swansea City that put a smile back on the face of manager David Moyes after three consecutive defeats.
Elsewhere in the league, Everton rose to fourth with 41 points courtesy of a 2-0 home win over Norwich City and Tottenham Hotspur took their tally to 40 in fifth after beating Crystal Palace 2-0.
With Sunderland winning 4-1 at Fulham and West Ham United sinking Cardiff City 2-0, Palace now prop up the table, although only six points separate them from 10th-placed Hull.
Also on Saturday, New West Bromwich Albion manager Pepe Mel watched his new club lose 1-0 at mid-table Southampton.
It was about as stress-free a Saturday lunchtime as Chelsea could have wished for at Hull.
They easily coped with the home side’s lackluster attacks and when they attacked Hazard provided the spark.
The Belgian fired a low shot home following a jinking burst in the 56th minute and Spain striker Torres marked his 200th league appearance with a clinical strike.
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech also set a club record of 209 clean sheets, 150 of them in the league.
Chelsea are beginning to hit top gear at just the right time, churning out wins and clean sheets as they did in Mourinho’s first stint in charge.
“We could do better because we lost some points that we shouldn’t have but it could also be worse. Not a five out of 10, not a 10 … seven, seven-and-a-half, eight, around there,” Mourinho said.
With strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie missing, Manchester United labored against Swansea in the first half at Old Trafford.
Antonio Valencia lifted the mood when he tapped the ball in after 47 minutes, before Danny Welbeck flicked in United’s second goal to clinch the win.
At Goodison Park, Gareth Barry’s 50th league goal helped Everton to victory over Norwich, before Kevin Mirallas made it 2-0 with a free-kick.
England striker Jermain Defoe reminded Tottenham fans what they will be missing when he joins Toronto on Feb. 28, scoring the second goal against Palace after replacing Roberto Soldado.
After conceding 11 goals without scoring in two crushing cup defeats and falling into the bottom three, West Ham produced a gutsy display to win at Cardiff, despite having James Tomkins sent off and fellow defender Guy Demel taken to hospital.
Carlton Cole gave the Hammers the lead and Mark Noble scored in stoppage-time after being set up by fit-again England striker Andy Carroll, who was making his first appearance of the season.
At Craven Cottage, Adam Johnson grabbed a hat-trick to lift Gus Poyet’s Sunderland off the bottom.