Wenger eyes Chelsea or Man Utd
At Emirates Stadium
History suggests Chelsea or Manchester United might just fancy meeting Arsenal in the Uefa Champions League quarter-finals. Arsene Wenger wishes to make it clear the feeling is entirely mutual.
Wenger made no effort to be careful what he wished for as he virtually floated in to pore, and purr, over Arsenal's artistry as they swiped Porto aside 5-0 at the Emirates.
He has been accused of flying in the face of logic before - therefore it should come as no surprise that Wenger rolled out the welcome mat for two teams who have inflicted four defeats, three of them emphatic, on Arsenal this season.
Wenger insists revenge is not his motive, and his explanation that "we can't do any worse than we did in the league" does not exactly present the most convincing argument.
But no-one does conviction and confidence, even when it is wholly misplaced, quite like Wenger and this was Arsenal's manager at his most bullish in the afterglow of a demonstration of almost all that is good about his team.
Small details may yet derail his plan. Jose Mourinho will not be too amenable when he takes Inter Milan back to Chelsea next week in a position he loves, namely defending a lead.
And of course Manchester United have memories of dismantling Arsenal in last season's Champions League semi-final, as well as at the Emirates in January, to call on should the sides meet again this season.
It is hard to imagine Chelsea or Manchester United reeling back in terror at the thought of facing Arsenal when they have proved so superior in direct opposition this season.
None of this was knocking Wenger out of his stride when he admitted if he had a choice he would take an all-Premier League encounter, although he added he was also guarding against developing "a negative obssession with not drawing Chelsea or Manchester United."
Wenger, for all his cerebral approach to management, still loves one very basic human emotion of the sport. He enjoys proving people wrong.
You can see it as Arsenal edge their way back into a Premier League title race that looked lost after defeats to Manchester United and Chelsea. You can sense it in his relish at the notion of challenging, and defying, the odds that would be against Arsenal should they meet the two other English superpowers.
Arsenal's post-game huddle emphasised their team spirit. Photograph: AP
And, after witnessing the manner in which Arsenal demolished Porto, it was easy to see why Wenger was so upbeat as he said: "If I don't smile tonight I will never smile."
Chelsea and Manchester United may allow themselves a smirk of their own at Wenger's audacity given their record against Arsenal, but his confidence in his team is pretty much clad in concrete. Unbreakable.
A note of caution though. While the variety and creativity of Arsenal's game was enough to put paid to Porto, better sides may take more ruthless advantage of uncertainties at the back when placed under serious pressure.
Arsenal wobbled at the start of the second half before regaining their composure and reasserting their vast supremacy. They may not get away with it against a Didier Drogba (let's face it, when do they ever get away with it against Drogba?) or a Wayne Rooney.
But having been critical of Arsenal before this season, with total justification, it is only right they should be applauded for a performance to delight any purist. On nights like this they are a pleasure to watch.
The unlikely spearhead was the man dubbed "Barndoor Bendtner", and the striker with the Devon Loch approach to a finish, after Arsenal's win against Burnley on Saturday.
If Wenger is confident, then Nicklas Bendtner is regarded by plenty as over-confident. And that is putting it mildly. Even Wenger allowed himself a wry grin when he revealed "his confidence level always remains relatively stable."
It is this indestructible self-belief that allowed Bendtner, helped by a ringing endorsement from Wenger in his programme notes, to shrug off his nightmare against Burnley and lead Arsenal's dismissal of Porto with a hat-trick.
Arsenal's fans are sometimes accused of impatience, but they threw their weight of support behind Bendtner. And while the goals he scored would have taken a lot of missing, he justified Wenger's declaration before the game that "he will score the next one". He did - and the one after that for good measure.
He was helped by another of those mesmerising displays from Andrey Arshavin. The Russian set up goals for Bendtner and Emmanuel Eboue, and held Porto's defence in his spell all night.
This loping little man, when on song, has an uncanny knack of almost hypnotising defenders who are frozen to the spot with indecision in front of him as he makes another of his surges into opposition territory.
Arshavin was the ring-master - but the real high spot was Arsenal's third goal from Samir Nasri. It provoked all manner of comparisons from Archie Gemmill for Scotland against the Netherlands in 1978, to Ricky Villa for Spurs against Manchester City in the FA Cup final three years later. At a push you could even stretch it to a Diego Maradona moment.
Nasri slalomed in from the right flank, taking out a succession of Porto defenders, some of them twice, before smashing a finish past Helton. It finished Porto off and it was fitting it should do so.
It was the crowning moment of a virtuoso Arsenal attacking display. The doubts must remain about whether they would possess enough to take out Chelsea or Manchester United should they meet over two legs, as Wenger wishes.
Would they have the strength? Would the failings that have let them down against Chelsea and United this season surface again?
Well, we know the answer to one thing. Arsene Wenger would just love the chance to find out.