Chelsea made light of the injury-enforced absences of their two main strikers by crushing bottom side Norwich City 7-0 on Saturday to cement their place at the top of the Premier League table.
The Blues saw both senior forwards hobble off injured during Wednesday's Champions League victory over Malmo, Romelu Lukaku's twisted ankle shortly followed by a hamstring strain for Timo Werner.
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel opted to deploy a front-three of Kai Havertz flanked by Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi, and the two academy graduates helped the rampant hosts to a dominant win, which could arguably have been worse for Norwich were it not for a string of fine saves from Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul in the second half.
Mount started the rout with his first goal since May, ending a run of 15 scoreless club appearances as the 22-year-old midfielder lashed home a fine finish into the bottom corner. Hudson-Odoi doubled Chelsea's lead after racing on to a through-ball from Mateo Kovacic and coolly slotting past Krul.
Reece James, who like Mount and Hudson-Odoi came through the Chelsea academy, made it 3-0 before the break with a sumptuous chip having been played in by Mount.
Ben Chilwell then continued his rich vein of goal-scoring form by firing home Chelsea's fourth 12 minutes after the interval. It was the England wing-back's fourth goal in five games for club and country.
The Blues extended their lead further five minutes later when Norwich defender Max Aarons deflected Hudson-Odoi's cross past Krul. The rout was already complete but the Canaries' afternoon was made even tougher when defender Ben Gibson was given his marching orders after earning a second yellow card for a reckless lunge on James.
There was still plenty of time for more Chelsea goals and Mount duly delivered. The England international grabbed his second in the 85th-minute from the penalty spot but had VAR to thank after it spotted Krul off his line while saving the first attempt. Mount made no mistake with his second effort to make it 6-0, and he completed his hat-trick in stoppage time by tapping home Ruben Loftus-Cheek's square pass.
“Before the game, I put pressure on myself to get on the scoresheet because it’d been quite a long time since I did,” Mount said. “Then three goals in one game.
"We were on it for the whole game. We never stopped.”
Chelsea v Norwich player ratings
Tuchel was understandably pleased with his team's performance but insisted it is far too early in the season to be discussing their title credentials, although such talk among observers feels inevitable following such a ruthless display.
“We were sharp and put in a lot of effort," the German said. "We pressed high and won many balls, we played with a high rhythm and created a lot of chances. To score seven you also need a bit of luck and momentum, but it was a good effort.
“You don’t find any manager in the world who gives you a statement on favourites or the title race in October," he added. "We are where we are and we know what we want to do.
“If you want to be a contender for the top places you have to show resilience. It doesn’t help if you talk about it today. We have to keep working hard to keep the momentum going."
While Chelsea continue to motor, Norwich are yet to even find first gear. The promoted club are still seeking their first win of the season and are firmly rooted to the foot of the table.
However, Norwich manager Daniel Farke is in no mood to throw in the towel, particularly at this early stage of the campaign.
“It’s an unbelievably tough day. In all areas we were not good enough for this level," he said. "We were nowhere near to what we can play. The goals we conceded were not even too difficult to defend against. For this world-class level we were not competitive enough.
“It’s not the right moment to start a discussion [about relegation]. It’s not the time to talk too much, it’s time to roll the sleeves up and work.”