Between the departures of Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas and picking up one point out of nine from their first three Premier League matches, August was a month that most Arsenal fans would rather forget. The two highlights were Arsenal's advancement to the group stage of the Champions League for the 14th straight season and the excitement left by a rash of signings that occurred on or just before transfer deadline day.
That excitement was then tempered by the news that Thomas Vermaelen and Jack Wilshere would miss added time to recover from injuries, but all is not lost, fellow Gooners. September is here and there is reason (43 of them, actually, for the time being) to believe that Arsenal isn't as dead in the water as many would claim. Injuries and suspensions will heal and end and occur again, but with any luck, Arsenal won't be long without anywhere from 6-8 possible starters (Wilshere, Vermaelen, Song, Frimpong, Gibbs, Djourou).
Forty-three is the number at hand, because that is the number of guaranteed matches that Arsenal have to play ahead of them. Forty-three is the number of games that a recovering Arsenal side has to prove that Arsene Wenger shouldn't be put out to pasture like many have claimed (they're nuts, by the way). Forty-three is the number of games that Yossi Benayoun, Mikel Arteta, Andre Santos, Park Chu-Young, Per Mertesacker, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ryo Miyaichi, Carl Jenkinson and Gervinho have to prove that they were the signings we all hope them to be. Forty-three is the number that you should all hold on to, because Arsenal FC will be defined by no less than this number.
Can Arsenal realistically recover from their 0-1-2 start?
35. This is the number of games left in the 2011-12 English Premier League season. Every game counts, but the games at the end count more than those at the beginning. Ask Liverpool FC, a team that went 1-3-4 to start the 2010 season and ended up missing Europa League by four points. Ask Chelsea FC who went from first to fifth in the table in the span of seven games mid-season to return to form and finish second. Ask Blackpool FC, who were fourth in the table after four games in 2010 and ended up as a relegated side come game No. 38. To say that the Arsenal season is already over, already a loss and already in the dumps is premature and a bit naive.
6. This is the number of guaranteed games that Arsenal will play in the Champions League this season. They have neither the hardest bracket, nor the easiest as 2010-11 Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund, 2010-11 SuperLeague Greece champions Olympiakos and 2010-11 Ligue 1 runners-up Marseille are the other three teams in Group F. This is where Arsenal tend to shine and a strong showing in the CL would go a long way to making fans feel better.
2. Guaranteed games in the domestic trophy competitions for Arsenal (Carling Cup and FA Cup). These are more games where Arsenal has a chance to showcase the talents of their younger players in earlier rounds and yet win silverware later. It hasn't happened in 6+ years with last year's Carling Cup collapse, but that doesn't mean that it still can't.
43. A number that goes down by one on Saturday against newly-promoted Swansea City. It's a chance for the Gunners to regroup, fire a salvo into the face of all their doubters and provide them with a little bit of breathing space.