Chelsea cruised to victory against Stoke in a game that was over as a contest within 23 minutes. Struggling Stoke – missing five defenders and fielding two teenagers at full-back – trailed within three minutes when Antonio Rudiger headed home Willian’s free-kick.
The Blues, who rested Eden Hazard, doubled their lead when Danny Drinkwater fired home on the bounce from 25 yards out, and Pedro added a third from just outside the box with only a quarter of the game gone.
Stoke striker Mame Biram Diouf had a goal harshly ruled out after using his upper arm to control a long ball before smashing home.
The game almost descended into a training match, with Chelsea going 50 minutes before adding a fourth through Willian’s penalty.
Davide Zappacosta scored a late fifth from 20 yards out as the Blues made it five wins from their last six games.
Chelsea can afford to rest players
With Wednesday’s trip to top-four rivals Arsenal in mind, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte left Hazard on the bench and never needed to consider bringing him on.
The game was so straightforward, he could probably have rested his entire first 11.
Conte made three changes from the side who beat Brighton 2-0 on Boxing Day, and the first four goals were scored or set up by the trio to come in – Pedro, Willian and Drinkwater.
Rudiger rose highest to head an early opener from Willian’s set piece, before Pedro’s deflected cross found Drinkwater to smash home his first Chelsea goal.
Willian then picked out Pedro to score a third.
The second half lacked any competitive edge and Conte was able to bring off N’Golo Kante, Alvaro Morata – who missed two relatively straightforward chances – and Victor Moses to keep them fresh for Wednesday.
Willian scored a penalty after he had been fouled by Geoff Cameron, and Zappacosta scored his first Premier League goal from just outside the box late on.