Chelsea made it seven home league wins a row with a commanding 5-0 victory against Stoke, whose problems in defence intensified on Saturday.
Goals from Antonio Rudiger (4), Danny Drinkwater (9), Pedro (24), Willian (74) and Davide Zappacosta (88) sent Chelsea into second above Manchester United, who were later held at home by Southampton.
Meanwhile, Stoke, who were without defensive duo Ryan Shawcross and Kurt Zouma, have now conceded 49 goals this season - a league high - and remain just two points above the drop.
Mark Hughes' side have now won only twice in 11 matches and are very much looking over their shoulder.
Chelsea: Courtois (7), Rudiger (7), Azpilicueta (7), Cahill (6), Moses (6), Alonso (6), Kante (7), Drinkwater (7), Pedro (8), Willian (8), Morata (6)
Subs: Bakayoko (6), Zappacosta (7), Batshuayi (6)
Stoke: Butland (6), Wimmer (4), Edwards (4), Cameron (4), Tymon (3), Fletcher (4), Adam (6), Afellay (4), Sobhi (6), Diouf (6), Berahino (4)
Subs: Choupo-Moting (5), Ngoy (3)
Man of the Match: Willian
Chelsea were ahead inside three minutes, which set the tone for a dismal afternoon for the visitors.
Willian fired a set-piece in from the right and Rudiger rose highest to nod home.
Stoke barely got out of their half in the opening quarter and were two behind on nine minutes when Pedro's cross dropped to Drinkwater on the edge of the box, where he found the top corner with a special dipping volley.
Antonio Conte decided to rest Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas and Tiémoué Bakayoko – in came Pedro, Willian and Danny Drinkwater. Mark Hughes freshened up his squad, making six changes. Saido Berahino, Ibrahim Afellay and Josh Tyman all made rare starts.
Willian supplied Pedro with a firm pass on 24 minutes and the Spaniard spun Josh Tymon before firing past Jack Butland into the far corner.
Mame Biram Diouf had a goal ruled out for handball just before the break while Alvaro Morata wasted a one-on-one with Butland.
Saido Berahino could have ended his goal drought but was thwarted by Thibaut Courtois.
Willian fired a home a penalty - one that he won himself - before Zappacosta, a second-half sub, added a fifth after a terrible headed clearance by Tymon.
Man of the match: Willian
The Brazilian identifies Chelsea strength in depth going forward. With Eden Hazard rested, Willian slotted into the free role with aplomb, creating havoc with his movement and powerful running. Pedro ran him close for the award but his yellow card for an unnecessary dive in the second-half blotted his copybook.
Live Premier League
- Chelsea have conceded just four goals in their last 12 Premier League games, keeping eight clean sheets on the way.
- Stoke's total of 20 points after 21 games is their worst-ever haul at this stage of a Premier League season.
- Willian has been directly involved in six goals in his last four Premier League games against Stoke (4 goals, 2 assists).
- Five of Pedro's last seven Premier League goals have come from outside the box.
"We started the game very well, with great desire to score early.
"In this type of game if you are able to score early the game can become easy because your opponent has to change their plan and then gives more space to your strikers."
"We were stretched today - a little bit too much.
"We didn't have the tools to have a go at Chelsea. We're playing today, we're playing Monday. We've got injuries in key areas. That back four clearly hasn't played together, with two young full-backs. They found it difficult, which is understandable. It's a huge leap to what they're used to.
"At times they'll make mistakes and at this level you get punished. You have to factor that in and we understand that."
Pundit reaction - Matt Le Tissier
"They [Stoke] weren't a threat going forward. Berahino had the only effort on goal that I can remember Courtois making a save from and they really weren't a threat all afternoon.
"It [Chelsea's first goal] was a bit bizarre. There was a free-kick on the right hand side, and Willian has whipped it in. A nice bit of curl, a nice bit of dip, and Rudiger's got up. And he's got three Stoke players around him and none of them wanted to challenge him. Nobody jumped for it and he was head and shoulders above everyone.
"They [Stoke] were still asleep from the first whilst because they just didn't liven up in that first period."
Chelsea have a trip to top-six rivals Arsenal on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports Premier League, while Stoke City have a 48-hour turnaround to contend with as they face Newcastle on New Year's Day.