The 3-5-2 is not exactly a popular formation in the modern game, particularly compared to the 4-2-3-1 or the 4-4-2 formations preferred by most teams.
However, Steve Bruce’s Hull City employed the system to great effect last season to gain promotion and now in a few games in the Premier League as well, where they sit in 12th place on a respectable 19 points.
Argentina coach Carlos Bilardo was the first to use the 3-5-2 at international level. Terry Venables famously used the 'Christmas Tree' formation during Euro 96, in England’s run to the semi-finals before a heartbreaking exit on penalties to Germany.
The good thing about Hull’s employment of the 3-5-2 is that it suits many of their players to the tee. Although Bruce went to four at the back after a 4-1 loss to Mauricio Pochettino’s impressive Southampton side, his tried and trusted system in the Championship was employed to tremendous effect against Liverpool.
The Tigers ran out comfortable 3-1 winners against the Reds at the KC Stadium on December 1, giving their hopes of survival a massive bost.
Ahmed Elmohamady and Robbie Brady are suited to the wing-back position and excelled in the win against Liverpool. Even in the 0-0 draw against Stoke, Hull’s system worked well. The only thing missing from their effort being a goal.
Asmir Begovic had a good game as he kept out Hull a number of times that evening, including saves from Ahmed Elmohamady and Yannick Sagbo.
A few teams have employed the system previously, like Roberto Martinez at Wigan. However, the efficancy of the system for Hull has certainly been terrific.
With the wing-backs pressing high up the pitch and opponents also having to deal with two strikers, Hull City present a unique new challenge to their Premier League opponents.