Two goals from Pedro and strikes from Alexandre Pato and Ruben Loftus-Cheek gave Chelsea a comfortable 4-0 win over Aston Villa.
Eric Black was in caretaker charge of Villa for the first time after Remi GardeÂ’s departure earlier this week but a 22nd defeat of the season means the Midlanders could be officially relegated as early as next week.
Pedro had the first chance of the game, sending a curling effort from the edge of the box just over the crossbar.
Chelsea were forced into an early change when Loic Remy hobbled off to be replaced by Pato for his first Blues appearance, 63 days after signing on loan from Corinthians.
Chelsea took the lead on 26 minutes when John Obi Mikel fed Cesar Azpilicueta on the right wing and his low cross was met by Loftus-Cheek, whose shot deflected beyond Brad Guzan off Joleon Lescott.
Aston VillaÂ’s best opportunity of the first half came on the half hour when Carles GilÂ’s shot was parried by Courtois, and Baba RahmanÂ’s clearance hit Ayew and rebounded straight into the Chelsea goalkeeperÂ’s arms.
Rahman then had a chance of his own at the other end of the pitch but his near-post shot was well blocked by Guzan.
Loftus-Cheek came close to grabbing his second when he sidefooted just wide after intercepting Carlos SanchezÂ’s pass on edge of the box.
Chelsea doubled their advantage in first-half stoppage-time when Pato was hauled down in the box by Aly Cissokho and the Brazilian picked himself up to slam the resulting spotkick beyond Guzan.
If the game wasnÂ’t already over as a contest it was just 48 seconds into the second half when Pato played a neat one-two with Oscar before teeing up Pedro to slide home ChelseaÂ’s third.
It was 4-0 soon after when Pato’s long-range shot was parried by Guzan but only into the path of Pedro who stroked the ball home from a tight angle.
Rudy Gestede came closest for the home side in the second half but he couldnÂ’t quite stretch to reach AyewÂ’s low cross.
Alan Hutton then saw red after collecting two bookings in quick succession, with the rest of the game played out amongst howls of protest from the Villa supporters who continued to direct their anger towards owner Randy Lerner.