Cesc Fabregas starred as Chelsea re-established a three-point lead at the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win at Stoke City on Monday.
Manchester City’s victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday had seen the defending champions pull level at the summit, but success at the Britannia Stadium on Monday ensures Chelsea head into the hectic festive period out front in the title race.
John Terry’s headed opener from a Fabregas corner with less than two minutes played gave Chelsea something to defend and Stoke rarely looked like finding a way through the visitors’ determined defensive line.
Chelsea, for their part, often looked dangerous on the break after going ahead, but were unable to build on their breakthrough until Fabregas scuffed a second in 12 minutes from time.
While the result moves Chelsea three points clear at the top, Stoke are 13th following a first defeat in three matches.
Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois returned from injury as Jose Mourinho made five changes to the Chelsea side that beat Derby County in the League Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday, but it was two of the players who retained their starting berths from the trip to Pride Park who combined to open the scoring inside two minutes.