|Chelsea's Ramires celebrates his first goal for the Londoners [AFP]
Defending English Premier League champions Chelsea confirmed their return to form thanks to a stunning strike by Didier Drogba and goals by Florent Malouda, Nicolas Anelka and Ramires in a confident 4-0 away win over Bolton Wanderers.
Carlo Ancelotti's side had fallen away from contention for the title with a record of one win in nine matches but they have now won their past eight matches at the Reebok Stadium without conceding a goal.
Victory on Monday night moved them up to the fourth spot on 41 points and to within seven points of leaders Manchester United, who travel to Blackpool on Tuesday. Bolton have now suffered four defeats in their last five matches in a damaging run of form and are just eight points above the bottom three.
Manchester City are third on 45, Arsenal second on 46 and United are top on 48.
Bolton were stunned after 11 minutes when Drogba let rip from 30 metres out and the dipping, swerving ball left Jussi Jaaskelainen clutching fresh air.
Petr Cech dived full length to touch a Matt Taylor header round the post in a rare sight of goal for the hosts and just before half time Florent Malouda, who scored the winner in Chelsea's 1-0 home win over Bolton last month, threaded a shot inside the near post from a tight angle.
As Bolton pressed forward looking to find a way back into the game they were repeatedly caught on the break with Chelsea showing the sort of zip that has been sorely missing recently.
Ten minutes after half time, Chelsea punished Bolton with a ruthless break.
Essien found space down the left and although Knight beat Drogba to the Ghanaian's cross, Anelka's low shot had enough power to beat Jaaskelainen.
Bolton's night was all but over but substitute Mark Davies almost got on the end of a return pass from Elmander as he looked to reduce the deficit.
But the hosts knew they were always struggling to make any impression and after Anelka's shot was blocked from Essien's cross, Ramires steered a fourth goal past Jaaskelainen.
Chelsea could even have had a late penalty when Anelka went down in the area under a heavy challenge from Bolton defender Paul Robinson.
Drogba, named man of the match after his most impressive performance for months, was delighted.
"I took my chance, I had the confidence to try and the manager said to me to shoot when I had the chance," he told Sky Sports.
"Maybe before I was thinking too much, this one I just wanted to shoot."
Ancelotti, not for the first time in recent weeks, said he felt his team had turned the corner.
"We played pretty good football, with a good attitude and this was an important step," he said.
"We are coming back to fight for everything. It's not easy to close the gap but we have to try."