Alexandre Pato scored on his debut as a seventh-straight league loss continued Aston Villa’s slide towards relegation.
The home fans chanted against their players and owner Randy Lerner as the Blues took control in the second half.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s deflected shot and Pato’s precise penalty had given the visitors a healthy half-time lead.
Pedro scored twice – slotting in Oscar’s pull-back and hammering home a loose ball – before Alan Hutton was sent off to compound Villa’s misery.
No walk in the (Villa) Park
Aston Villa’s Premier League survival may still be possible in theory but, with 12 points separating them from safety and six games left, attention has long since switched to the longer term in the Holte End.
Before kick-off, fans held aloft banners asking “Proud History, What future?” as they contemplate a Championship campaign on the pitch and owner Randy Lerner’s continuing attempts to sell up off it.
Their protests increased in volume towards the end of the match with substitute Leandro Bacuna – who spoke of his plans to leave the club this week – picked out for particular criticism and a synchronised show of discontent on the 74th minute.
The final whistle was greeted with resounding boos from the fans who remained in a fast-emptying Villa Park.
A team of Villans?
Their team – without Gabriel Agbonlahor after photos were published of the striker apparently smoking on a holiday in Dubai – initially worked hard to provide some short-term solace for their fans.
With Eric Black in charge following Remi Garde’s departure on Tuesday, there was more industry and invention in attack in the first half with Jordan Ayew and Carles Gil both going close.
But, as has been the case so often this season, their efforts were fatally undermined by a brittle defence as Aly Cissokho allowed Cesar Azpilicueta too much space down the left to create the opener and then bundled into Pato to give away the spot-kick for the second.
Jack Grealish was greeted warmly as he returned from injury as a substitute and Alan Hutton was applauded off despite being shown a second yellow card for a heavy challenge on Loftus-Cheek.
But, after an insipid second-half surrender, there was little love for the rest of Villa’s team as they trooped off.
Like a duck to water
It was difficult to measure Chelsea against opposition in such disarray, but some of the fringe squad members shone in a win that extended their unbeaten league run to 15-straight games.
Pato said after the match that he was “surprised” to be brought on after Loic Remy suffered a slight injury, but showed some nice touches. In defence, fellow debutant Matt Miazga coped well with the aerial threat from Rudy Gestede while a hungry Loftus-Cheek curled a shot just wide as he hunted his second.
Pedro was particularly bright and could have had a hat-trick had a deft chip not been ruled out in the first half for a marginal offside.
With matches against Tottenham and Leicester to come in May, Chelsea will have a say in the climax to this season’s title race. With Italian Antonio Conte reportedly lined up for the manager’s job, they may be more directly involved next season.
Man of the match – Pedro
What they said
Caretaker Aston Villa boss Eric Black: “I’m not overly delighted losing 4-0 today, but things obviously run a little deeper.
“If you’re bottom of league and have won three games all season, you’re not going to be flying high. We have to be professional until the end, and do our utmost for the club and supporters. We need to continue to work hard to get this club back to where it should be.
“We have got to win back the fans and it will happen. How quickly, I don’t know. We have only won two games at home and there can be a disconnect, but we carry on and try and change their minds.”
Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink on BT Sport on Alexandre Pato’s debut wait: “He was counting down the days, and knocking on the door. I could have brought him on after 14 days or three weeks but it would have been irresponsible.
“He was not strong enough to battle in the league. He has to deal with the competition but he finally stepped up.”
Stats you need to know
- Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored his first Premier League goal in his 11th appearance.
- Alexandre Pato is the sixth Brazilian to score on his Premier League debut, following Geovanni, Robinho, Gilberto, Ilan and Willian.
- Oscar assisted Pedro’s first goal within a minute of entering the field at half-time.
- Only Diego Costa (11) has scored more Premier League goals for Chelsea than Pedro (6) this season.
- Two of the five occasions Aston Villa have lost by four goals or more at Villa Park in the Premier League have come in 2015/16 (also 6-0 v Liverpool).
- Chelsea have now set the longest unbeaten run of any team in the Premier League this season, going 15 games without a loss, winning seven and drawing eight.
- Villa have lost seven consecutive games for the second separate time this season.
Aston Villa play Bournemouth at Villa Park next Saturday. Chelsea are away to Swansea on the same day.