Second half strikes from Fernando Torres, and one apiece from substitutes Willian and Oscar were more than enough to dispatch Southampton 3-0 this afternoon.
While Chelsea should have been three or four clear in the first half, such were the chances wasted, they were still on level terms with Southampton until the 59th minute.
By then, Blues boss Jose Mourinho, sensing that his starting 11 needed freshening up brought on live-wires Willian and Oscar on 53 minutes. This proved to be the decisive tactical decision of the game as Oscar was instrumental in all the good thing which followed.
Torres reacted quickest on 59 minutes to tuck home the simplest of chances. This was followed 10 minutes later by a strike by Willian - both goals set up by Oscar,
The mercurial Brazil midfielder finished off Southampton with a goal of his own with 10 minutes to go to round off 11 points from four matches to keep Chelsea in third place in the Premier League two points off top spot held by Arsenal.
Chelsea started off brightly, perhaps benefitting from having the wind behind them. Fernando Torres had a momentary loss of direction, when attacking the goal, but crossed wayward.y. A minute later on three minutes he had a brilliant chance to open the scoring, latching onto a midfield pass from Ramires, but he say his shot, on target get deflected for a corner by a last-ditch interception from Jose Fonte.
Another chance created byTorres almost reaped dividends and a Andre Schurrle shot from just outside the home side's penalty area could have seen the visitors three up in the opening five minutes.
Dejan Lovren suffered a face injury that needed four minutes of on-pitch treatment after an accidental clash with one of his own teammates. The respite from the Chelsea onslaught hopefully allowing Saints to regroup.
The Blues suffered an injury of their own on 12 minutes when right-back Cesar Azpilicueta limped off the pitch. thankfully for the Spain defender, the twinge his low back was successfully dealt with.
Ramires broke through the high line left by the Saints rearguard a minute later. Goalkeeper Kelvin Davis was alert to the threat and only just managed to race out of his area and clear the ball before the Brazil midfielder got to it.
With their first attack on 17 minutes Adam Lallana weaved his way across the Chelsea defence on the edge of the area before letting fly with a crisp right-footer. Ashley Cole, back in the starting line-up showed his defence credentials by blocking the fierce shot. This signalled a period of attacking play by the home side, but not before Torres, on 20 minutes, missed a glorious chance, all of his own making. The Spain striker received the ball on the left wing from Mikel and proceeded to attack the Saints defence. He cut in-between Fonte and Lovren before smacking the ball from the edge of the penalty area. Unluckily, his shot was too powerful and it inched over Davis's crossbar.
Cole brilliantly dispossessed a suspiciously looking offside Jay Rodriguez, on 25 minutes, just as the striker was about to pull the trigger from eight yards out.
Another last-ditch stop, this time by Azpilicueta prevented a certain goal three minutes later when Lallana seemed to have created sufficient space for himself inside the Chelsea area to drive a smart right-footer on target.
A brilliant mazy run by Ramires on 35 minutes resulted with a shot on target, which Davis did well to tip over his crossbar for a corner.
Lovren was on hand, on his goal line to head out an albeit weak effort by Schurrle with six minutes of the half remaining after Eden Hazard created a fine set-up.
Southampton made on change at half-time, left-back Luke Shaw failed to appear, presumably an injury and he was replaced by Nathaniel Clyne. Referee Martin Atkinson took seconds of the restart before brandishing a yellow card. Ramirez being the recipient following his late challenge on Cole.
Chelsea survived an early scare as the home side pressed for a quick killer punch. Petr Cech on hand to deny Rodgriuez from close range being the Chelsea goalkeeper's first save of the game.
Jose Mourinho, clearly was unhappy with what he was witnessing and promptly made a double substitution, Willian and Oscar on for Schurrle and the ineffectual Juan Mata.
Oscar within seconds of coming in on 53 minutes was send clear into the Saints penalty area. With a one-on-one with Davis, Oscar took the ball around the goalkeeper and then went to ground. Was it a penalty? Well everyone in the stadium felt so apart from Atkinson who handed the Brazil midfielder a yellow card.
Quite why Oscar would go down when he was just a touch away from slotting home the ball into an unguarded net is unclear. Atkinson must have felt that Oscar deliberately let his trailing slam into Davis's midriff.
But Oscar redeemed himself six minutes later when he sliced a left wing cross onto Davis's far upright. Torres was on hand with the simplest of chances to tuck the ball home to put the Blues 1-0 up.
Substitute Rickie Lambert almost took full advantage of a hesitant Gary Cahill on 63 minutes when he snuck in in from of the centre-back to prod a header towards goal from six yards out. Cech was cute enough to react quickest and snaffle the effort.
Oscar was instrumental in Chelsea's second goal, 10 minutes after the first when he cut in from the left and set up Willian on the edge of the penalty area. The Brazil wide man took one touch to create a better shooting angle before rifling home with a low right-footed drive which nestled into the bottom left hand corner of Davis's net.
Oscar provided the coup de grace with 10 minutes to go when he raced clear, and, latching onto a Hazard through ball rammed the ball home past a prone Davis to score the third and secure all three points for the visitors.
Teams: Saints, Davis, Schneiderlin, Lovren, Fonte, Davis, Rodriguez, Ramirez, Cork, Lallana, Chambers, Shaw
Subs, Gazzaniga, Clyne, Yoshida, Lambert, Ward-Prowse, Hooiveld, Gallagher
Chelsea, Cech, Cole, Ramires, Torres, Mata, Mikel, Schurrle, Hazard, Cahill, Terry, Azpilicueta
Subs, Schwarzer, Essien, Oscar, Ba, Willian, Eto'o
Referee, Martin Atkinson