But Chelsea overcame the loss of Didier Drogba, Deco, Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack to rack up a comfortable win over Wolverhampton Wanderers, increasing their lead at the top of the Premiership and setting a new club record of 12 successive home victories.
Related ArticlesBirmingham City 1 Fulham 0Burnley 1 Aston Villa 1Hull City 3 West Ham 3Liverpool 2 Manchester City 2Sunderland 1 Arsenal 0Premier League actionThey also equalled an 82-year-old record for the most successive clean sheets - 10 - at Stamford Bridge.
The game was effectively over as a contest with barely a quarter of the allotted time gone. Malouda opened the scoring in the fifth minute, although the move that led to his goal originated in a last-ditch clearance by the Chelsea defence.
Matt Jarvis, the Wolves forward, found plenty of space down the right and measured a low cross into the centre of goal where David Edwards was sliding in but unable to make contact.
Instead the ball was cleared upfield, Jody Craddock's poor clearance fell to Malouda, and the Frenchman advanced unchecked as the Wolves defenders stood off, allowing him to rifle in a shot with his left foot from 30 yards that flew past Wayne Hennessey.
Michael Essien made it 2-0 after 12 minutes, rising unmarked at the near post to head home Malouda's corner, and then scored again in the 21st minute.
The Ghanaian midfielder started a flowing move that involved Ashley Cole and Malouda before Essien drove a shot from the edge of the penalty area through a crowd of players.
Hennessey got a hand to the ball but could not do enough to stop it, and it was a similar story when Joe Cole increased Chelsea's lead 10 minutes into the second half.
Nicolas Anelka, taking the main striker's role in the absence of Drogba, sent in a low cross from the left, Salomon Kalou laid the ball back and Cole hit a low shot from the edge of the penalty area, with Hennessey again getting a hand to the ball but failing to prevent it crossing the line.
Minutes later Carlo Ancelotti chose to introduce the first - and most significant - of three young substitutes, Gael Kakuta, the French teenager whose transfer from Lens led to Fifa banning Chelsea from transfer activity, a punishment currently suspended.
Kakuta showed with his first few touches exactly why he was coveted by Chelsea, as the Blues rained more efforts on Hennessey's goal.
Essien, striving for his hat-trick, had a dipping volley from 30 yards tipped on to the bar by Hennessey and then hit the sidenetting from long distance, Kakuta shot just wide and Kalou wasted a good chance when he beat the offside trap but shot high over the bar.
In the end it was exhibition stuff from Chelsea, while Wolves were on a damage limitation exercise, and when the news came through that second-placed Arsenal were losing at Sunderland, there was a loud cheer from the home fans.
Heady days indeed.