Anelka treble fires Chelsea
Chelsea showed no signs of a Stamford Bridge hangover as Nicolas Anelka's hat-trick paved the way for a 5-0 rout of Sunderland.
After Chelsea's incredible 86-match unbeaten home run was brought to an end by Liverpool last weekend, Luiz Felipe Scolari had admitted he was concerned by the way teams have frustrated his side at the Bridge.
But Anelka ran riot to claim his first treble for the club, while Brazilian defender Alex also scored and Frank Lampard notched the 100th league goal of his career to keep the pressure on title rivals Liverpool.
Sunderland arrived knowing they had not won at the stadium since 2001 and manager Roy Keane took the bold move to make five changes from the side that had suffered defeat to Stoke last time out.
The rain poured down in West London, but it did not affect Chelsea as they quickly slipped into gear and pressurised their visitors. Ashley Cole and Florent Malouda both came close, before Portuguese international Deco struck the crossbar with a clever curling effort on 16 minutes.
Sunderland's adventurous line-up simply was not combative enough and on 27 minutes the deserved opening goal arrived for Scolari's men. Joe Cole cleverly turned onto his left foot on the right side of the penalty area and fizzed a shot towards goal. Goalkeeper Marton Fulop managed to parry the ball away, but only as far as Alex who slid in for his first goal of the campaign.
The strike eased the pressure on Chelsea and three minutes later their lead was doubled. Deco showed great intelligence to slid a pass into the stride of Lampard, who in turn steered a cross along the six yard box.
Alex was steaming in to slide home, however it was Anelka who got the final touch to tap the ball into an unguarded net.
Chelsea still have Michael Ballack and Michael Essien in the treatment room and there was concern on 36 minutes as Ashley Cole was forced out of action with a leg injury.
The frowns were restored to smiles on the home bench in first half-injury time though, as beautiful interplay between Joe Cole, Lampard and Malouda led to another tap-in for Anelka.
After the half-time break it emerged that Sunderland manager Keane had been sent to the stands. He has been unhappy with some of the decisions by referee Martin Atkinson and was forced to watch the second half away from the touchline as a result of an outburst at the break.
Cavalry won't ride
Jordan Henderson and El-Hadji Diouf were introduced in a bid to save some humility for the visitors, but there was no stopping Chelsea.
Within five minutes of the restart Lampard was on hand to head home after fantastic approach play by Joe Cole on the right flank. Then, to add salt to Sunderland wounds, Anelka got his third goal on 52 minutes as he finished off a Malouda cross from inside the box.
Just before the hour mark Djibril Cisse was introduced for Sunderland and he had an opportunity to find the net within moments only to be foiled by Petr Cech.
Scolari used the comfortable cushion to ease Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba back into action with 25 minutes left to play.
He has been sidelined with knee and ankle problems, but will now come into the frame for a start at Roma in Tuesday's Champions League encounter.