A strange performance from Manchester United led to a fairly comfortable win for Chelsea as the Reds got off to a strong start but were dogged by a lack of firepower up front and some moments of horrendous defensive work at the back.
United got off to a strong start, immediately pressing and menacing the Chelsea backline, and created the first chance of the game as some nice short passing released Ashley Young down the left, although Petr Cech was able to save from his effort with the angle against the England winger.
United were looking bright, but (with shades of Rome '09), their bright start was undone by a sucker punch from Samuel Eto'o and thereafter things began to go awry. Phil Jones was guilty of letting the Cameroonian get past him far too easily as he cut in from the right and saw his shot deflect off Michael Carrick and loop over David de Gea and into the net.
Patrice Evra looked to pull one back with a ferocious and unexpected drive shortly afterwards, but only found the side-netting. United badly faded after their strong start, but Danny Welbeck was unfortunate to be denied by Cesar Azpilicueta after getting on the end of Adnan Januzaj's centre, in what smelled very strongly of a penalty shout.
Nonetheless, United were still well in the game but conceded at the worst possible time as they suffered another sucker punch towards the end of the half. A semi-cleared corner came back in, and courtesy of some mindblowingly bad positioning from Nemanja Vidic, Samuel Eto'o was played in and duly scored his second to make United's task far more difficult.
And it was even more difficult just after the second half began, as Eto'o completed his hat-trick, yet more abject defending allowed Gary Cahill a free header. David de Gea pulled off a remarkable reflex save to deny him, but it landed at the feet of Eto'o, and the rest was inevitable.
United now looked like a beaten team, and Chelsea began to sit on their lead and take the sting out of the game, although Javier Hernandez managed to pull one back by turning in Phil Jones' scuffed shot. The hopes of a last-gasp assault were limited, however, with José Mourinho's side playing very much like a José Mourinho side and slowing the game down to a crawl.
Nemanja Vidic then completed his worst performance since the 4-1 against Liverpool by hacking down Eden Hazard with a needless two-footed challenge to pretty much sum up the day but at least provide some amusement. Rafael then joined in with an airborne two-footed challenge to follow, but managed to escape with a yellow card.
So, that's that. Decent in some ways, horrendous in others, not aided by the referee but still distinctly outclassed. Our problems go way, way beyond midfield. We need a new defence and a new attack as well. Still, I'm sure we'll sort it all out when January arrives.