Blues Too Good For Villans (Sky Sports)
Chelsea 2 Aston Villa 0
The Icelander, back in the first team in place of Gianfranco Zola,
fired home in the 43rd minute from a narrow angle, and Lampard got
lucky when his cross from the left skidded off the turf and evaded
Peter Enckelman before nestling in the corner of the net.
This comfortable win takes Ranieri's side - unbeaten in the Premiership for two-and-a-half months - into Christmas in a buoyant mood.
As for Villa, dumped out of the Worthington Cup by Liverpool in midweek, their seven-month away winless streak in the league drags on.
Villa did catch Chelsea cold from the kick-off as Ustapha Hadji's cross picked out Lee Hendrie and Graeme Le Saux had to block his close-range shot.
From the resulting corner, the ball fell to Mellberg, who saw his half-volley smacking against the face of the Londoners' crossbar.
Hadji twice went close as Chelsea struggled to get hold of the ball, before Boudewijn Zenden's cross was headed over by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as the home side began to find their range.
However, Enckelman did not made his first save of the afternoon until the half-hour, parrying Hasselbaink's free-kick, before Gudjohnsen finally made the pressure pay when he made the breakthrough just before the break.
The Icelander raced onto Hasselbaink's weighted lay-off and fired past Enckelman off the far post.
Gudjohnsen turned Gareth Barry inside-out at the start of the second period before shooting from close range - and only a lucky deflection off Enckelman's right shoulder prevented the home side doubling their lead.
And from the ensuing flag kick, Staunton's header deflected into Gallas' face and onto the top of the Villa bar.
Chelsea's second did arrive in bizarre circumstances. Lampard
curled a diagonal cross in from the left flank, aiming for Gudjohnsen.
Cudicini parried late drives from Hadji and Allback but by that
stage it was comfortable for the hosts.
Aston Villa: Enckelman,
Samuel, Barry, Mellberg, Staunton, Leonhardsen (Angel 61),
Hitzlsperger, Hendrie, Hadji, Dublin (Kinsella 61), Vassell (Allback