Gareth Southgate has been criticised for continuing with a 5-2-3 system throughout the fall internationals. After England breezed through their certifying group for Euro 2020 with a free-flowing, high-scoring 4-3-3, they have changed to a more conservative shape that has actually resulted in the objectives drying up.

Yet Southgate becomes part of a growing tactical trend, with 14 of the Premier League 20 teams setting up with a back five in at least one match this season. These are the reasons why this system remains in style– and why teams are progressively deploying it.

Strength in numbers

It is very important to stress that beginning formations do not inform the full tale. The video game is fluid and teams will change shape in and out of belongings.