Chelsea have put their pre-World Cup blues behind them as England duo Raheem Sterling and Mason Mount starred in a 2-0 victory over Bournemouth.
But the win was tarnished for the Blues by the sight of England defender Reece James, back from the knee injury which forced him to miss the World Cup, limping off injured again just after half-time.
Manchester United also responded well after the break, sweeping aside Nottingham Forest 3-0.
Manager Graham Potter was in desperate need of a win following three straight Premier League defeats before the World Cup break which had left his side outside the top six at Christmas for only the second time in 22 seasons.
But there were encouraging signs that Potter had put the six-week break to good use as Chelsea stylishly put their bogey side to the sword.
Bournemouth had won on three of their last five visits to Stamford Bridge but they never looked like repeating the feat in Gary O’Neil’s first match as permanent manager.
Chelsea were well in control from the first whistle and took the lead after 16 minutes when Mount fed his England colleague Sterling down the right.
Sterling, who was lively throughout, fizzed a low ball across goal which Kai Havertz, another of Chelsea’s returning Qatar contingent, slid in to squeeze beneath the diving Bournemouth keeper Mark Travers.
Seven minutes later Chelsea had a second, Havertz laying the ball back for Mount – making his 150th Chelsea start – to superbly curl beyond Travers from 20 metres.
There was confusion before halftime when a penalty appeal at both ends fell on deaf ears before Christian Pulisic put the ball in the net, with the goal seemingly disallowed for a foul by Havertz on Adam Smith.
Chelsea’s German forward should have had a second when he eased past Lloyd Kelly in the area only to drag his shot wide, before Travers saved another drive from Mount and Kalidou Koulibaly headed a cross from Cesar Azpilicueta narrowly off target.
Bournemouth battled gamely but without testing Kepa Arrizabalaga until the 79th minute when the Chelsea keeper saved from Ryan Christie at his near post, but it was ultimately a comfortable and satisfying win for Potter’s side.
Meanwhile Marcus Rashford has continued his rich vein of form as Manchester United closed in on the Premier League top four with a 3-0 win over Forest.
Rashford, fresh from an impressive World Cup campaign with England, scored the opener and made the second for Anthony Martial as United moved to within one point of fourth-placed Tottenham.
He was off the Old Trafford pitch by the time that Fred added late gloss to the victory that Rashford spearheaded.
The 25-year-old has been back to his best this season and scored his eighth goal in 13 games for club and country, looking a real threat throughout the match.
The way he combined with Martial and Antony in attack suggests that United will fare just fine without the departed Cristiano Ronaldo.
And with the possibility of additions next month, Erik ten Hag’s side will be making a real push to break into those Champions League places and stay in them through the second half of the season.
For Forest, who had a goal ruled out by VAR, this match went a little better than the last time they played United when they lost 8-1 in 1998, but they remain in the bottom three and with Chelsea to come on New Year’s Day it does not get any easier.