Chelsea remained hot on the heels of Premier League leaders Manchester City after cruising past Everton 3-1 at Stamford Bridge.
The win brought third-placed Chelsea to within a point of Manchester United in second and kept them three behind City. Everton, on the other hand, find themselves two points above the relegation zone and four of the seven sides below them are due to play tomorrow.
Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas had made two changes from the side that won 5-1 at Bolton Wanderers before the international break, with Branislav Ivanovic replacing David Luiz in defence and John Obi Mikel coming in for Raul Meireles in midfield.
David Moyes, the Everton manager, opted not to change his starting line-up from the one beaten at home by Liverpool in their most recent game, with midfielder Jack Rodwell able to play after his much-debated red card in that game had been overturned.
Sturridge opens scoring
Everton were the more impressive side in the first half-hour and certainly created the better chances. Tim Cahill, the Australia international, headed an early one wide and it was not long before Petr Cech, the Chelsea goalkeeper, had to punch a corner away under pressure from Marouane Fellaini. Louis Saha then tested Cech with a low drive that the goalkeeper initially fumbled, before Fellaini was cautioned for a high challenge on Ramires.
Chelsea took a 31st-minute lead through Sturridge, his fourth of the season. Juan Manuel Mata was the man who unlocked the Everton defence with a chipped pass into the box that was perfect for Ashley Cole, who had run in behind his marker. The England defender crossed from the left and Sturridge gave Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard no chance with a firm header from six yards out.
Cole was booked for a foul on Tony Hibbert before Leighton Baines was shown a yellow card before the break for a clumsy challenge on Sturridge. Terry doubled Chelsea's lead in first-half stoppage time when he rose the highest in a crowd of players to head Frank Lampard's free-kick past Howard.
Ramires finishes the game
Moyes' side continued to battle after the break but Leon Osman's long-ranger cleared the crossbar by some margin before Seamus Coleman was replaced by Royston Drenthe on the hour mark. Within seconds of the Dutch midfielder's arrival, however, the game was put beyond Everton's reach when Ramires slid in to make it 3-0.
Again Mata was the key man as the Spaniard accepted a pass from Didier Drogba that put him in space on the left and, although Baines and Sylvain Distin were in close proximity, Ramires was still able to get to the cross first and score.
The 19-year-old from Greece diverted Drenthe's cross from the left past Cech, with his first touch of the game, less than a minute after replacing Saha. It was a neat finish but too late to change the game.