Bolton Wanderers were unlucky to succumb to a narrow defeat at the hands of Premier League champions in a game that Owen Coyle's men more than merited a point.
The winning goal was one surrounded in controversy, as Didier Drogba latched on to a through ball in a seemingly offside position to tee up Florent Malouda midway through the second period.
In truth, many Wanderers fans will no doubt have left the capital scratching their heads as to how their side failed to find the net, as Stuart Holden, Matt Taylor, Gary Cahill and Rodrigo all came close to breaking Chelsea's resistance.
Manager Coyle made two enforced changes to his starting line-up following the 2-1 Boxing Day triumph over West Brom. Sam Ricketts replaced the injured Gretar Steinsson, whilst there was a first start in a Wanderers shirt for on loan Benfica winger Rodrigo, who replaced the Qatar-bound Chung-Yong Lee.
Indeed, Coyle's squad had been stretched so far, he was only able to name five substitutes, with a number of players sidelined for a whole host of reasons.
The game started in a somewhat lively manner. Wanderers made much of the early running with Rodrigo proving a real livewire down the right channel. The Brazilian-born former Real Madrid man almost set Johan Elmander into the clear but his pass was slightly overhit and moments later he whipped a teasing ball into the danger zone that Petr Cech did pluck out of the night sky.
Chelsea had also started the contest positively, but were left frustrated by the Wanderers rearguard as Zat Knight and Gary Cahill marshalled the backline catching Drogba and Ashley Cole offside nipping two promising attacking moves in the bud.
It was no surprise that Drogba was the focal point of the home side's attacks and as the rain continued to tumble down, the Ivorian got his first sight of goal from a free-kick on the angle of the goal area. However, the result was a remarkable effort that was horribly skewed so far wide that the ball went out for a throw in.
Meanwhile, up at the other end Coyle's charges continued to pose a threat to the Chelsea goal. Ricketts scampered forward with the ball down the right flank before his looping cross fell at the feet of Matt Talylor, before the left winger fizzed an effort inches wide of Cech's left post.
Although the hosts enjoyed large spells of possession in the Bolton half, it was Wanderers who looked the more likely. Having linked up with Ricketts down the right flank, Taylor bent an effort narrowly over the crossbar after pivoting on the edge of the area.
The final 20 minutes of the first half ebbed and flowed, as Coyle, who had braved the cold yet again to wear shorts, continued to encourage the hard work and commitment that clearly left his counterpart Carlo Ancelotti frustrated.
Chelsea, who had clearly been given proverbial rocket by Ancelotti at the break, were out on to the pitch a good five minute early.
And the home fans were almost on their feet with two minutes of the restart. Drogba beat the offside trap and latched on to Frank Lampard's pass, but his low shot across the face of the goal clipped Jaaskelainen's right post before Knight hacked away the loose ball.
It was a severe warning from the hosts, but the Whites responded with an opportunity of their own, as a combination of both Rodrigo and Kevin Davies narrowly failed to connect with a ball into the box from the right.
The volume began to rise inside the stadium, as Chelsea went in search of an elusive goal. Ramires tested Jaaskelainen with a tame shot from distance but it was only to be a temporary restbite as the home side took the lead on the hour mark in controversial circumstances.
Drogba picked the ball up in what seemed to be an offside position, only for the linesman to keep his flag by his side, as the Ivorian rolled the ball across the face of goal for a simple tap in for Malouda.
The goal sparked a series of furious protests from the Wanderers contingent, which ultimately only succeeded in Paul Robinson picking up his fifth booking of the season resulting in a one match ban.
Thought the Whites weren't fazed, and continued to pepper the Chelsea goal. Cahill smashed an effort over the area from point blank range and Stuart Holden cannoned an effort into the midriff of John Terry from the edge of the area.
Cahill was again left frustrated as he stole in at the back post but couldn't connect with Taylor's cross as Wanderers went in search of an equaliser.
Holden was next to go close, arriving late in the area to connect with Elmander's cross from the right forcing Cech into a reflex save.
From the resulting corner Cech then came to claim the ball, but spilled only for the Chelsea defence to smuggle away the danger.
The Whites pressed late in the game, but Chelsea came close to nicking a second when Michael Essien saw a header from a corner scrambled away, as Wanderers' search for the elusive equaliser cruelly proved fruitless.
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa (Ferreira 90), Terry, Ivanovic, Cole, Essien, Ramires, Lampard, Malouda, Anelka (Kalou 90), Drogba (Unused substitutes: Turnbull, van Aanholt, Bruma, McEachran, Kakuta)
Wandereres: Jaaskelainen, Ricketts, Knight, Cahill, Robinson, Rodrigo (Klasnic 72), Muamba, Holden (M Davies 82), Taylor (Petrov 78), Elmander, K Davies (Unused substitutes: Bogdan, Alonso, Blake)