Chelsea fought back from a goal down and the early dismissal of Maniche to claim a crushing victory over West Ham.
Crespo (second right) celebrates his goal with his team-mates
James Collins' header gave West Ham the lead before Maniche saw red for a lunging tackle on Lionel Scaloni.
But Didier Drogba latched on to Frank Lampard's pass to equalise and then set up Hernan Crespo for Chelsea's second.
John Terry buried the rebound after William Gallas had hit the bar to make it 3-1 before Gallas found the net from close range to round off the scoring.
Manchester United's recent run of form has put unexpected pressure on Chelsea at the top of the Premiership, with their lead reduced to seven points before kick-off.
However, they showed here they are capable of winning games the hard way - if that is what it takes.
The Hammers began well and took the lead when Collins caught the home defence napping, running unchallenged to meet Yossi Benayoun's corner and powering his header home at the near post.
That clearly rattled the champions but they almost responded instantly.
Maniche's cross bounced dangerously across the face of goal before Danny Gabbidon cleared the danger, with Crespo waiting to pounce.
The Hammers were lucky to survive again when Maniche smashed Drogba's low cross against the bar from the edge of the six-yard box and Michael Essien headed the rebound wide.
And it did not look like it was going to be Chelsea's day when Jose Mourinho's side were reduced to 10 men on 17 minutes.
Maniche went over the top of the ball in his challenge on Scaloni and, to the astonishment of Mourinho, referee Chris Foy's response was to show a straight red card.
But Chelsea have not lost a league game at Stamford Bridge since February 2004 and, despite being a man down and a goal behind, they were not about to surrender that record yet.
They drew level on 28 minutes when Drogba latched on to Lampard's long ball over the top and, although Collins blocked his first effort, the Ivory Coast international had time to power the rebound past Gabbidon on the line.
Drogba was involved again three minutes later as Chelsea took the lead.
When Gabbidon failed to clear his lines the ball was fed to Drogba, whose shot deflected off Collins for Crespo to slot home from close range.
By now, West Ham were struggling to maintain their shape, let alone make their extra man count, and only a smart save by Shaka Hislop stopped Drogba adding a third before half-time.
It was not long before Mourinho's men did extend their lead, however, Terry drilling home on 54 minutes after Gallas had hit the bar.
Marlon Harewood should have done better with a header from Paul Konchesky's free-kick at the other end but by now Chelsea were firmly in command.
They got the fourth goal their superiority deserved on 69 minutes when substitute Arjen Robben's free-kick fell to Gallas in the area and he turned to slot home.
Teddy Sheringham had a shot cleared off the line by Gallas but that was the only time West Ham threatened in the closing stages and Chelsea's victory never looked in doubt.
Chelsea: Cech, Geremi, Gallas, Terry, Del Horno, Makelele, Maniche, Lampard, Essien (Ricardo Carvalho 90), Crespo (Robben 66), Drogba (Joe Cole 90).
Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Wright-Phillips.
Sent Off: Maniche (17).
Goals: Drogba 28, Crespo 31, Terry 54, Gallas 69.
West Ham: Hislop, Scaloni, Collins, Gabbidon, Konchesky, Benayoun (Sheringham 72), Mullins, Reo-Coker, Etherington, Ashton (Zamora 84), Harewood.
Subs Not Used: Walker, Newton, Clarke.
Booked: Harewood, Konchesky.
Goals: Collins 10.
Ref: C Foy (Merseyside).