WHEN Arsenal’s Theo Walcott hammered home past Aston Villa’s goalkeeper in the 39th minute, hall three at MBO Cinemas in Citta Mall, Ara Damansara, which was filled with Malaysian Gunners supporters, rumbled with joy.
If moviegoers were wondering if a riot had broken out, they didn’t have to worry. It was a group of die-hard Arsenal fans watching their team successfully defend the FA Cup.
The England international’s first goal against Aston Villa got the 300-plus crowd on their feet celebrating, and in a moment, it was as if everyone in the cinema had been teleported to the Wembley Stadium in London.
Fans who paid for tickets to the live screening got their money’s worth a few times over, starting after half-time – with a screaming long range effort from Chillean Alexis Sanchez finding the net and goals from German Per Mertesacker and substitute Olivier Giroud’s in injury time putting the icing on the cake for them.
The liveliness of the atmosphere grew with each goal despite the hands of the clock showing past 1am and did not end until the trophy was lifted.
The screening was organised by the Gunners supporters club Arsenal Malaysia and was open to the public, with fans arriving at the cinema hours before the kick-off and join in with their kindred spirits as members of the club helped get fans in the mood chanting through megaphones.
Arsenal Malaysia president Azman Shah Mohidin said demand for the screening was high based on the word of mouth others had given on the previous viewings in the cinema.
“We also wanted to do something different from what Malaysian fans are used to like going to a mamak with their friends.
“We had a lot of email and Facebook messages asking ‘Hey, how come you guys are not doing a screening this year’, it was then we decided ‘OK, let’s do this again’ and that was decided a week before the final. When we announced it, the tickets sold out in three days.”
It was the third time the club organised a live screening in a cinema. Last year, the club gathered fans for the Arsenal vs Hull City FA Cup final which ended in their team lifting the trophy after a nail-biting 3-2 scrap, in contrast to this year’s comfortable 4-0 triumph over Aston Villa.
At half-time, the organisers sweetened things up for the fans with lucky draws of PUMA merchandise.
Gunners fan Alex Yee noted that Arsenal played their long passes very well and based on their FA Cup form added: “The Arsenal we saw playing in the final is a very hard team to defend against.
“Alexis Sanchez’s goal was the goal of the match for me. Going up 2-0 with a goal like that would have left any team demoralised,” he said.
Meanwhile, Azman noted: “As with any cup final it is 50/50 – the formbooks go out of the window and its based on performance of the day. This time I think the players were much more focused and they knew the job in hand would not be easy,” .
“Four-zero looks comfortable on paper, but we were controlling the game from the start thanks to the collective effort of the players and by keeping at it from the first minute to the last,” the supporters club president added.
The win adds another feather to Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger’s cap with a record 12th FA Cup for the club – six alone under his watch. It broke Manchester United’s previous record of 11 and along with that makes Arsenal the most successful club in FA Cup history.
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