There have been multiple reports over the past few weeks over Sterling’s interest in a move to Arsenal in the January window. If the move does materialise, Arteta would have a world class attacker at his disposal. But with Sterling’s preferred position being on the left wing, Arteta will have to tweak his formation to fit in all the attackers he has at the moment. Sterling also has shown that he can play as a False 9, so when Aubameyang goes away for the African Cup of Nations, Arteta can use the Englishman up front as well.
Arteta’s 4-2-3-1 formation with Sterling on the left
The biggest problem with this formation is that players like Smith-Rowe and Nicolas Pepe will miss out along with Alexander Lacazette. But if Arteta wants to fit in an additional attacker, he can choose to play Sterling as a false 9 in place of Aubameyang like below.
This will allow the Arsenal front 4 to be more fluid as all of the players are comfortable in playing across all the attacking positions. Sterling can easily swap with either of Saka, Smith-Rowe or Odegaard which will make it hard for opposition defences to mark him. This might be the long term vision of Arteta who has been a coach under Pep Guardiola and would have been influenced by the Total Football philosophy.
The skeptical Arsenal fan might question signing Sterling at this time as Arsenal have some seriously talented young players who play in similar positions. Considering the form of Aubameyang and Lacazette’s contract situation, Arsenal might be better off with signing a pure center forward who can play as the number 9.