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Arsenal lay down mark

FOLLOW that, Fergie! Arsene Wenger has thrown down the gauntlet to Manchester United and Chelsea with a Champions League lesson for Porto which will force rivals to reassess the Gunners.

A 5-0 battering of Porto set a high standard for Alex Ferguson and his team against AC Milan tonight -- and for Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea in a week's time against Inter.

The Arsenal boss has signalled his growing confidence by claiming that he would fancy a go at Manchester United or Chelsea in the Champions League semi-finals, despite the fact that Arsenal have nothing to show from their Premier League efforts this season against those above them in the table.

"I have a funny feeling that maybe it's good for us to play an English team," Wenger said. "We have not done well against Chelsea and Man United this year and it would be a good chance to show we can do it against them.

"I believe that maybe it's a good opportunity, if we do get them, to show that we can do well. First of all, I don't have the choice about who we draw. If I have the choice, I would say 'Yes' but I don't have the choice. If we do get them, we cannot do worse than we did in the championship. We can only do better.

"We will take the draw that we get. We do not have to make an obsession. For example, what I do not want is that we make a negative obsession of not playing against Chelsea or not playing against Manchester United. That's all."

While Wenger ponders the possibility of another three Premier League points away to Hull at the weekend, Ferguson is trying to quell supporter unrest gathering around Old Trafford.

The 'Red Knights' campaign to remove the Glazers and if possible, the huge debt burden resting on Old Trafford, is gathering steam and Ferguson is uncomfortable with talk of a fans' protest which could delay the kick-off against Milan.

"The fans won't do that. It is too important a game. Old Trafford will be rocking and I am sure whether they are wearing the traditional red and white or the protest green and gold scarves the supporters will be united and speaking with one voice to get us safely through.''