Zola ready for Hull

Gianfranco Zola is hoping to get back to winning ways in Sunday's Barclays Premier League match with Hull City.

The West Ham United manager suffered his first league defeat against Bolton Wanderers two weeks ago but is hoping his side respond positively to secure their second consecutive victory on their travels with a win at the Kingston Communications Stadium. It will be tough with Hull riding high.

Several players left Chadwell Heath to join up with their national teams after the Bolton game, but Zola used the past fortnight to set up some intense sessions for those that remained. "I didn't mind the break," he said. "We had an opportunity to work hard and to catch up on some fitness. We are very pleased; it came at the right time."


Hull City have surprised many by their start to their first Premier League season, having recorded impressive wins against Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur in their previous two outings. "Hull City are really playing well, they are a team that is not afraid to play and it is going to be a tough test. It is a team that has enthusiasm and they are a very dangerous side to play, especially right now.

"But I don't mind, I'm sure they want to play the game and we will try to do the same so we will see. We lost the last game and we didn't think we deserved that so we want to come back strong."

He is particularly wary of Geovanni, the Brazilian playmaker. "We need to be aware of him and where he plays. It's not going to be easy because he doesn't play on the strikers' or midfield line, he plays in-between. Those areas are very difficult to handle a player like him."

Zola is more concerned about his own attackers though and West Ham United boast the second best goalscoring record in the division. However, it is at the other end of the pitch that Zola is keen to focus on, as his side have not kept a clean sheet since February's trip to Fulham.

"I said it at my first press conference that the first thing I'm concerned about is the defensive aspect. After that we played three games and conceded so maybe we know that we need to defend better. But apart from the first two matches when, in my opinion we defended well, in the third match against Bolton we were unlucky because of an unfortunate couple of occasions.

"But I'm happy because the way the team is playing right now is the way I expected them to be playing at this stage so I'm not concerned at all. We will get it right. I totally trust my players. The way they are training they are responding to my sessions brilliantly."

Zola has revolutionised the system that the team has played since taking over as manager, deploying Matthew Etherington in a free role behind a front two of David Di Michele and Cole and the result has been two goals each from his front three.

"First of all it's a system that I know very well and one that can allow the team to play good football," Zola said. "I trust it, plus I saw the players training and playing and I think this system suits this team very well. That's why I chose it. That's my idea about the football. We will see whether I'm right or not."

Zola also reflected on his first month as manager, and said: "I like what I'm doing and I want to do it in a proper way. So far I have to say things are going well."