2. The consequences of benching Kurt Zouma are getting less ignorable
It is important to note that this is not saying that Tuchel has been picking the wrong team because he’s not been picking Kurt Zouma, but Zouma’s absence in the side has consequences, and Tuchel at the very least has to be aware of them, in order to mitigate them. The debate of how good Zouma is on the ball is not one that is worth going back into, but there’s nothing that Rudiger offers on the ball that Zouma doesn’t. Long balls, passing the ball forward to break pressing lines and playing out from the back are things that Zouma does very well and very often. There are other things that Zouma brings to the side, in other phases of play, that Rudiger doesn’t offer, or not nearly to the same degree.
Chances from set-pieces have reduced drastically since Zouma was dropped from the team. He has the most goals of any defender in the league, and was a constant threat from set pieces for Chelsea, especially corners. As some point earlier in the season the Blues had scored the most goals from set pieces, now all that has seemingly dried up. Set pieces were a reliable source of scoring chances this season. In fact, two of Mason Mount’s three assists this season have been to Zouma. Chelsea had eight corners against Sheffield United, it’s difficult to remember any one that resulted in a goal scoring chance.