Alexandre Pato and Matt Miazga enjoy Chelsea debuts at Aston Villa
Chelsea romped to a 4-0 victory on Saturday against a desperately poor Aston Villa side who were rolled over with consummate ease.
First Premier League goals for Ruben Loftus-Cheek and debutant Pato put the Blues firmly in control at the break, and a second half brace from Pedro completed the rout.
Having had the international break to ponder his starting XI for the Villa game, the main surprise in Guus Hiddink's starting XI came in central defence, where both John Terry and Gary Cahill were excluded through injury.
USA international Matt Miazga, 20, was handed his debut, partnering skipper Branislav Ivanovic at the heart of Chelsea's backline. Miazga, a £3.5 million January transfer window signing from the New York Red Bulls, had a trouble-free game and showed enough quality to merit retention in the side.
Youngsters Baba Rahman, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Kenedy were also given another chance to impress, while supporters hoping to see loan signing Pato given a chance to show what he can do finally had their wishes granted when Loic Remy, chosen to lead the line in place of suspended Diego Costa, was injured midway through the first-half.
The startling immediacy of Pato's impact made a mockery of Hiddink's decision to select Remy ahead of him. The Brazilian looked as fit as a fiddle, winning and converting a penalty and playing a part in Chelsea's three other goals.
For many of the Chelsea players on show -- Pato, Baba, Miazga, Loftus-Cheek, Kenedy and academy product Jake Clarke-Salter -- the hope is that Hiddink will give them further chances to shine and prove themselves before the order of things changes yet again at Stamford Bridge.
Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):
GK Thibaut Courtois, 7 -- Rarely troubled but stayed focussed and twice denied Jordan Ayew a goal with smart saves.
DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 7 -- An easy afternoon on the right side of defence for the Spain international, who had plenty of opportunities to get forward. One of which resulted in the telling cross that Loftus-Cheek swept home.
DF Branislav Ivanovic, 6 -- Dependable enough, but hasn't had an easier game all season.
DF Matt Miazga, 7 -- Competent, confident debut against opponents who were bullied and beaten out of sight long before the full-time whistle. Was tested early on by Rudy Gestede, but remained composed and grew in stature as the game progressed.
DF Baba Rahman, 6 -- Defended with conviction and bounded forward with youthful exuberance. Greater concentration might have resulted in goals for both himself and for teammates.
MF John Obi Mikel, 7 -- Has flourished during Hiddink's interim stewardship and once again the Nigeria international was at the top of his game. Bossing midfield with cultured touches on the ball, he was the architect-in-chief of Chelsea's opening goal and an integral part of what was a comfortable victory.
MF Cesc Fabregas, 7 -- Pulled Chelsea's midfield strings in a steady if unspectacular way throughout the contest.
MF Pedro, 8 -- With Willian and Eden Hazard absent, it was left to Pedro to provide Chelsea with an incisive, creative cutting edge and the Spaniard obliged admirably, fizzing with intent and tormenting Villa's backline at every given opportunity. Two well-taken goals provided a platform for a deserved hat trick, but Hiddink thought differently and substituted him in the 73rd minute.
MF Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 8 -- A strong display from the Chelsea academy product, whose purpose and endeavour was rewarded with a well taken goal. The 20-year-old easily mastered Villa's defence and would benefit greatly from Hiddink starting him in the Blues' remaining games this season so he has the chance to build confidence and continue to impress ahead of the next managerial appointment at Stamford Bridge.
MF Kenedy, 6 -- Uncharacteristically subdued in the first half and will consider himself unlucky to have been replaced at the break against such yielding opponents.
FW Loic Remy, N/R -- Little involvement in the game prior to being forced off midway through the first half. Pato's positive display, the return of Costa and availability of Radamel Falcao could mean this short cameo was Remy's last with Chelsea.
FW Alexandre Pato, 8 -- Replaced Remy in the 23rd minute and slotted into Chelsea's brisk style of play immediately. Involved in the build-up to Loftus-Cheek's opener and both of Pedro's goals. Won and converted a penalty just before the break. It's a shame Pato has taken so long to build fitness, because on this display the Brazilian might have made a telling contribution to Hiddink's team when they still had something to play for this season.
MF Oscar, 6 -- Replaced Kenedy at half time and was on hand shortly after the restart to play Pedro in for Chelsea's third goal. Functional thereafter.
MF Jake Clarke-Salter, N/R -- Replaced Pedro for the final phase of the game and will draw confidence after making his debut.
Mark Worrall is one of ESPN FC's Chelsea bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @gate17marco