A double from Mason Mount helped Chelsea record their fifth consecutive victory in all competitions with a 2-0 success at Aston Villa.
Mount first pounced on an awful Tyrone Mings header to score the opener in the sixth minute before producing a swerving free kick from distance beyond Emiliano Martinez in the second half.
Villa exerted pressure on Chelsea between the two goals and could have drawn level had it not been for the inspired performance of Blues goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who produced an outstanding array of reflex saves to keep his side ahead.
The visitors were gifted the opener through a horrific Mings error. The England defender misjudged a header and nodded it straight into the path of Mount, who reached the ball before Martinez and guided it home.
That goal seemed to puncture Villa's early buoyancy but the hosts roared back and Chelsea only had goalkeeper Arrizabalaga to thank as his goal was peppered with shots.
Leon Bailey missed a big chance to equalise as his header from John McGinn's cross came back off the bar, while three saves in quick succession from Arrizabalaga denied McGinn, Danny Ings and Jacob Ramsey before an offside flag ended the chaos.
Ings looked to have headed in from point blank range, but the leaping Arrizabalaga somehow scrambled across his line to flap the ball over the bar and to safety.
Chelsea retained their threat, with Kai Havertz teeing up Raheem Sterling who saw his powerful strike bounce back off the crossbar.
Blues manager Graham Potter switched up his formation in the first half before bringing on Cesar Azpilicueta and Kalidou Koulibaly for the second period, with the visitors gifting Steven Gerrard's side too many chances at the back.
Chelsea continued to absorb Villa's pressure before a moment of inspiration from Mount gave them breathing space in the contest.
The midfielder sent a dipping and fizzing set piece over the wall, completely outfoxing Martinez who was deceived by the flight of the ball, to make it 2-0 and effectively kill off any hopes of a comeback from Villa.
The win takes Chelsea three points clear of Manchester United in fourth, while Villa remain out of form and down in 16th with nine points from ten games.
Aston Villa vs Chelsea player ratings - Premier League
1. Aston Villa (4-3-3)
GK: Emiliano Martinez - 4/10 - Sold short by Mings for Chelsea's opener. Deceived by Mount's free kick and may well think he should have done better.
RB: Matty Cash - 5/10 - Lost the ball an awful lot while attempting some creative passes.
CB: Ezri Konsa - 5/10 - Wasn't very authoritative in the air, at one point being beaten in the air by Sterling.
CB: Tyrone Mings - 4/10 - Awful misjudgement allowed Mount to nip in and score. Was as committed as usual after the error.
LB: Ashley Young - 4/10 - As hardworking and industrious as you'd expect, but a few deliveries from out wide left a little to be desired.
CM: John McGinn - 6/10 - Showed his trademark force to bustle his way into the box and draw some saves from Arrizabalaga.
CM: Douglas Luiz - 6/10 - Helped Villa maintain pressure by winning the ball back quickly.
CM: Jacob Ramsey - 6/10 - Made a few typically marauding runs, often being brought down by cynical fouls.
RW: Leon Bailey - 4/10 - Could have equalised but got too much on his header and hit the bar. Faded out of the game a little.
ST: Danny Ings - 5/10 - Header looked set to bring Villa level but was somehow kept out by Arrizabalaga.
LW: Ollie Watkins - 5/10 - Pressed well and got some joy out of Chelsea's defenders - especially in the air - but the finishing touch wasn't there.
SUB: Emiliano Buendia (66' for Bailey) - 5/10 - Couldn't provide much of a creative spark
SUB: Philippe Coutinho (73' for McGinn) - 5/10 - Didn't find any shooting opportunities.
SUB: Leander Dendoncker (78' for Ramsey) - 5/10 - Fresh legs on after the result had been determined.
Manager: Steven Gerrard - 4/10 - Did at least go with a more attacking lineup but Villa are just as shaky and shot themselves in the foot. Not a good look for Gerrard.
2. Chelsea (3-4-2-1)
GK: Kepa Arrizabalaga - 9/10 - Brilliant display of shot-stopping kept Villa at bay during the first half. Workload decreased somewhat in the second period but his side have him to thank for the victory.
CB: Trevoh Chalobah - 7/10 - Another comfortable performance for Chalobah, who made a number of important clearances/
CB: Thiago Silva - 7/10 - Made a few expertly timed challenges to half Villa attacks and led his defence.
CB: Marc Cucurella - 4/10 - Was ran pretty ragged as Villa piled on the pressure in the first half. Brought off at half time.
RWB: Ruben Loftus-Cheek - 6/10 - Displayed his powerful running on occasion and did well centrally when Potter rejigged his personnel.
CM: Mason Mount - 8/10 - Excellent anticipation and alertness to pounce on Mings' error and score. Brilliant free kick deceived Martinez and sealed the victory for Chelsea.
CM: Mateo Kovacic - 6/10 - Made a few busting runs up the middle of the pitch. Also guilty of a few cheap giveaways.
LWB: Ben Chilwell - 5/10 - Dicey studs-up challenge on Ramsey saw him booked. Would have wanted to provide a greater attacking threat.
RF: Kai Havertz - 6/10 - Completed a couple of nice dribbles, made a few tackles and linked up well with Sterling on occasion before coming off at half time.
LF: Raheem Sterling - 6/10 - Great effort which unluckily hit the woodwork. Clever movement throughout the game but control at vital moments in the last third evaded him.
ST: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang - 4/10 - Was completely out of the game and didn't make a telling contribution.
SUB: Cesar Azpilicueta (46' for Cucurella) - 6/10 - Helped calm things down alongside Koulibaly.
SUB: Kalidou Koulibaly (46' for Havertz) - 6/10 - Got booked but got his positioning right to make some important clearances.
SUB: Conor Gallagher (58' for Aubameyang) - 6/10 - Helped Chelsea stay strong in central areas.
SUB: Jorginho (65' for Kovacic) - 6/10 - Came on and sprayed a few passes around.
SUB: Armando Broja (89' for Sterling) - N/A - On for the final minutes.
Manager: Graham Potter - 6/10 - Changed things around when his side weren't at their best. Will want to see his side carving out more clear-cut scoring opportunities.