Essien on Fire …Strikes double in Chelsea's 4-0 Wolves rout
Chelsea ran riot to rout strugglers Wolves and retain a five-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
It was a stellar Blues display, despite a host of absences, kick-started by Florent Malouda's 22-yard strike.
Michael Essien then grabbed two in 10 minutes, heading home unmarked and squeezing in from the edge of the area, before Joe Cole clipped in on the hour.
Wolves came closest when Petr Cech kept out Sylvan Ebanks-Blake's header, but in truth they could have lost by more.
The victory briefly extended Chelsea's lead at the top of the table to eight points thanks to Arsenal's defeat at Sunderland but Manchester United beat Everton 3-0 in the late match to close the gap.
However, Chelsea, even at this early stage, appear favourites to win their first championship since 2006
Their excellent return of 33 points from a possible 39 has been borne out of a combination of silky attacks and sturdy defence - both of which were on display against Wolves.
In fact the clean sheet, the 10th straight shut-out at Stamford Bridge, saw Carlo Ancelotti's men equal the club record set way back in 1927.
As if Wolves needed any warning as to the size of the task at hand before kick-off, in their last outing Chelsea overcame champions Manchester United to maintain their 100% home record under Ancelotti.
However, with the Blues coming off the back of the international break with Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard, Deco, Michael Ballack and Ricardo Carvalho all unavailable, the visitors might have sniffed a chance of an upset. Three goals in the opening 21 minutes put paid to that idea.
Malouda got the hosts up and running, latching on to Jody Craddock's tame clearance and then lashing a rocket into the roof of the net. He then set Essien up for the second from a corner, the Ghanaian heading home unmarked at the near post.
And the midfielder grabbed his second from outside the area when his shot squirmed under the keeper.