Everton v Sunderland
Everton moved into the top half of the table with this straightforward 2-0 victory over Sunderland.
After some tight and edgy encounters on home soil this term, it was something of a refreshing change to see the Blues record a victory with the minimum of fuss against an accomplished Black Cats outfit.
Jermaine Beckford, who was named up front alongside the fit-again Louis Saha, netted twice in the opening half to seal the win.
But, in reality, the two goal winning margin did not reflect the scale of dominance enjoyed by the home side.
After the 'Thriller in Vanilla' at Stamford Bridge, it was clear David Moyes' men were oozing with confidence and controlled the contest from first minute to last.
The one frustration was, however, the sight of two players being forced out of the action through injury, with Marouane Fellaini hobbling off before the interval and Beckford following suit in the second period.
A growing list of walking wounded is not ideal as the Blues prepare for the visit of Reading in the FA Cup fifth round.
But that is a problem for another day. Having had doubts over five key players for this contest, Moyes must have been delighted to be able to name two in his starting line-up and two amongst his substitutes - with only Victor Anichebe failing to prove his fitness to take a place on the bench.
Fellaini, for the time he was on the field, commanded the contest whilst Saha, who made way for Diniyar Bilyaletdinov in the closing stages, proved his short spell on the sidelines with a hamstring problem had not blunted the sharp form he has been displaying in 2011.
It was ironic, though, that on such a straightforward afternoon the first chance of note for either side fell to Kieran Richardson. He beat the offside trap in the sixth minute to run on to a through ball from Asamoah Gyan but fired well wide of the target.
It was the home side who broke the deadlock though - and it came less than two minutes later. Jermaine Beckford was the scorer, timing his run to perfection to latch on to a neat pass Leon Osman before firing beyond Simon Mignolet to the delight of the Gwladys Street fans behind the goal.
It was a goal that signalled the dominance that was to follow. Marouane Fellaini and Mikel Arteta were pulling the strings in the centre of the field whilst Osman, Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman were probing menacingly. But the clearcut openings Everton's control of the game warranted were not materialising.
And the threat posed by the Black Cats on the counter-attack was underlined by Stephane Sessegnon shortly before the half hour mark. A quick attack ended with the Sunderland new boy firing a sweet effort from the edge of the box. A stunning finger-tip save from Tim Howard pushed it onto the underside the crossbar and the Blues did just enough to clear the threat before the visitors could capitalise.
And so it was a welcome sight when Beckford netted his second of the game - turning the ball in from close range after great creative play from Arteta down the inside left.
But the joy was shortlived as Fellaini was forced out of the action minutes before the break because of an injury. It meant a return to the team for Jack Rodwell following his recovery from a groin injury.
In the second period Everton continued to be head-and-shoulders better than their guests. But brave goalkeeping from Mignolet ensured Saha and Coleman were twice unable to add to the lead for the Blues.
Injury prevented Beckford continuing the hunt for his hat-trick, hobbling off with 18 minutes to play to be replaced by Tim Cahill.
But the changes didn't impact on the flow of the game, with Osman going close twice with volleys that flashed wide.
Substitute Diniyar Bilyaletdinov followed suit as the game entered its final stages. But, despite some wayward shooting, this result was never in doubt.
Which is why Osman could afford a wry smile in injury-time when a glittering run past three players ended with a shot being cleared off the line.