Luiz reinvented as Chelsea destroy Villa
Two games, 13 goals. Not a bad way to react to the disappointment of losing in the FIFA Club World Cup final.
The verve and élan with which Chelsea dismantled first Leeds United and then Aston Villa has been a joy to behold and a world away from the drudgery that marked Rafael Benitez's first few games in charge. Whether it has been the manager, the leaders in the dressing room or simply a more "can-do" attitude on the pitch, confidence suddenly seems to be coursing through the team with every player queuing up to score against Paul Lambert's hapless side in the second half.
Such was the desire to get everyone on the score sheet that it was almost a surprise that Petr Cech didn't step up to take the spot-kick that Lucas Piazon saw saved by Brad Guzan with the score at 7-0.
Although Torres and Mata lead the scoring charts for the club this season, one of the more positive aspects of the campaign so far has been that the goals have been shared throughout the side. There were seven different goal scorers against Villa and five against Leeds. There is still an over-reliance on Torres as a centre-forward but others are stepping up to the mark to stick the ball in the net. Most notable has been the contribution from the defenders. David Luiz, Branislav Ivanovic and Gary Cahill have now scored 15 times between then in all competitions, which is an incredible amount to accrue before the Christmas turkey has been put in the oven.
Though perhaps that statistic is slightly misleading as David Luiz appears to be reinventing himself as a midfielder and might see his outings as a centre-back start to decrease. The Brazilian was magnificent from start to finish, following on from his first start in that position against Monterrey by taking advantage of the freedom to express himself in the middle of the park one again.
Although detailed to rove in front of the back four, Luiz has been given license to stride forward and create as well as disrupt. With Lampard alongside him, suddenly the physical dimensions of the team are enhanced with the added benefit that their ball-playing skills can complement the wizardry of those in front of them. The touch and vision that the pair showed to carve open the Birmingham club was exemplary, while their positional discipline was also notable.
Luiz's rasping free kick and all-round dominant performance might catch the headlines but he could also often be found sitting beside the central defenders whenever Villa made a foray toward the Chelsea penalty area. It illustrated the responsibility that the player naturally assumes, despite the impulsive reputation that he has acquired, which is an essential component of any successful defensive midfielder.
The early goal is always seen as a crucial factor when scorelines such as these are produced. The unfancied away team has their battle plan blown out of the water within moments of kickoff and is then picked off at will by a side roared on by a vociferous home crowd. However, Chelsea's problem this season has been in killing teams off once the lead has been taken so it was immensely gratifying to see them put the opposition to the sword.
A thumping header from Torres was followed by Luiz's impression of Cristiano Ronaldo and then Branislav Ivanovic's close-range finish. Game over before halftime. And just in case there were to be any alarms, Lampard rolled back the years with a sensational fourth and sent a reminder to the powers that be that there is plenty of life in the old dog yet.
The Blues could have been excused for taking their foot off the gas with a busy run of fixtures ahead though the introduction of fresh legs made them even stronger allowing Ramires to score twice with Eden Hazard and Oscar chipping in for good measure. A ruthless streak is manifesting itself and that has to be a good thing as the matches start to get tougher.
A testing trip to Norwich will be made on Boxing Day with an even more demanding journey to Everton coming just four days later. Chelsea have comprehensively destroyed a lower league team and one stocked full of youth and inexperience in the past few days and now momentum has to be carried forward. The next two matches will pose sterner questions though if the team approach them with the same attitude and precision of which they have proved that they are capable then we might just witness the rarest of things: a points-laden festive period for Chelsea.
Follow Phil Lythell on Twitter @PhilLythell