With the make-up of the Chelsea squad now settled, Blues legend Pat Nevin speculates on how the team may line up in the coming games, explains why he believe signings have been made, and he reflects on the controversial end to the weekend win…

Last week before the Southampton game, I said in this column that we may be going into a slightly different era in the Premier League. There is less respect, or maybe we could even call it less fear, from some of the smaller clubs this time round. Once again, this weekend it was underlined that on the road in the Premier League, nobody can take anything for granted.

I had a chat with Alan Shearer on air before Saturday's fixtures and he was all for giving Man City the league if Liverpool didn’t win at Goodison, but I was just a tad more cautious.

Liverpool did draw a blank across Stanley Park but then Man City could only squeeze a point out at Villa Park too. It may well be that City and Liverpool aren’t miles ahead at the end of the season this time and that is why we have to keep in touch after a patchy start to the campaign, especially on the road.

Maybe it isn’t surprising things haven’t flowed easily right away, with so many new faces arriving over a short period. It can feel like an unsettling time for all the players, but you don’t get too long to settle in this league.

In the starting line-up against the Hammers at the weekend, Kalidou Koulibaly, Marc Cucurella, Wesley Fofana, Raheem Sterling and Conor Gallagher weren’t at the club last season. That is 50 per cent of the outfield players. That is a tall order to make gel this early, but even though it was a narrow squeak at the end, when all was said and done, Chelsea deserved the points even if the late VAR controversy fell kindly in our favour.

There was certainly plenty of debate after the weekend and the VAR officials clearly didn’t get every call right after investigating the pictures at close quarters. I did understand why West Ham’s equaliser was chalked off, however. Even in the BBC’s commentary, Jonathan Pearce said he wondered if Jared Bowen’s trailing leg was the reason. Specifically, was it left to trail deliberately over Mendy?

VAR adjudged that to be the case, and even though only one person knows the truth of that, Jared himself, that was clearly the thought process. The thing is, it was still a subjective call, and not the type that VAR was really supposed to get overinvolved with, hence the controversy, but it might well have been a foul, if a soft one.

In the end you have to take the rough with the smooth. Did any Chelsea fan at that moment not think about the late equaliser by Spurs at the Bridge when they should have had a man sent off in a very similar position in front of the Shed, at a very similar point in the game. Having said all that, there were a whole bunch of decisions VAR got right at the weekend that in ‘the old’ days would not have been spotted, but they will get far less notice. Isn’t that just the way of the world!

Players grabbing chances

The Blues have got other concerns, starting tonight with the match against Zagreb and with any luck, VAR will not be needed to help us. As we know, if any away trip in the Premier League is a potential slip-up, then at least the same level of jeopardy surrounds an away game in the group stage of the Champions League. If we play to our best, few doubt that we will be flying back with a flying start and three points intact, but it will need a robust performance.

It has taken the Croatians three qualifying rounds to get here, but that just means they are acclimatised to Europe already, no bad thing. What they will have to deal with is a Chelsea team that will be getting more drilled as a unit by the week.

What Thomas Tuchel clearly wants is competition in every single position if he can, so there is no possibility that anyone is tempted to cruise though any game, or even part of a game. The classic example was self-evident on Saturday. Marc Cucurella was in the driving seat at left wing-back, but the moment Ben Chilwell got a chance he grabbed it as if his life depended on it. It was a phenomenal display by the English international and remember, he has the extra incentive of wanting to get into the national team for the World Cup in Qatar as well as the Chelsea team for the Champions League games.

Both Cucurella and Chilwell are brilliant going forward, just about as dangerous as any winger you care to mention, but in Thomas Tuchel’s eyes, you can’t stop or ease off whoever you are at Chelsea. Just look at Liverpool just now in the same position. Andy Robertson has been a phenomenon making goals down that left-hand side. The creation dried up for just a little while and bang, Tsimikas is starting before Andy can say ‘Wait a minute big Yin’ to Jurgen Klopp!

Who up front?

Tonight’s team should be interesting and not just at left wing-back. Now that we have Denis Zakaria, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Wesley Fofana in the group as well after the new board’s generosity, it looks much more balanced, but also it will get harder to decide what the best starting 11 is.

At some point in the future, we might see Aubameyang up top with Havertz and Sterling tucked in behind. Now that is a very strong-looking attack with plenty of goals in them. Then again, the idea of Conor Gallagher and Mason Mount as a duo behind a striker is hugely impressive too.

This is exactly what the manager wants, and it doesn’t matter if it is a Champions League group game in Zagreb tonight or a Premier League game against Liverpool in a couple of weeks, you will only start if you keep your standards high. If we do that, then and only then will we be seriously competitive from here on in.