Zola charged for Chelsea

Gianfranco Zola has said beating Chelsea this Sunday would "put me on top of the world" and is expecting his players to rise to the occasion.

The manager's mood has been furthered by the fact Matthew Upson and Luis Jimenez have both been training fully this week and should be in contention, along with the available again Mark Noble after suspension. There is also "good news" on Carlton Cole and Valon Behrami's progress from knee injuries, with the latter a possibility for the Boxing Day fixture against Portsmouth and the former pushing hard for a return in January.

For now, it is league leaders Chelsea that are occupying the manager's thoughts. He said: "It would be massive to get a result against a big team. It will be a fantastic atmosphere. We're going to do everything we can to lift the crowd and get them behind us and maybe surprise them."

He will be up against someone he knows well in Carlo Ancelotti and is hoping to get one over his former mentor. "It will be very nice to meet Carlo on the pitch," he said. "We played together in my first game for the national team and then he's been my manager at Parma. It will be very good to see him and to beat him would put me on top of the world. It would be great."

Looking back to the midweek setback at Bolton Wanderers, Zola reminded all that he accepts full responsibility for his role. "Whatever happens here is my responsibility. I'm the guy in charge here and if somebody has to take the blame it is me and nobody else.

"I must say that the commitment that everybody is putting into this situation is top, and I appreciate that … If the team is not working or picking up the points we should pick up, I should have done better. But it's OK, it's part of the job."

Embracing the challenge, he said he was up for the fight. "I am very demanding on myself, and that's why I became the player that I became. Every day I demanded the best from myself.

"Every time I see an opportunity to improve myself, I go for it, and I want my players to become the same. In life it's like that. Every day you have to find a reason to improve yourself, and that's what I want to see in my players as well."

He reminded that the team's position is almost identical to last season and also that 12 months ago the papers were full of rumour and speculation - the vast majority of which did not come to pass.

"I keep focused. It doesn't help me or my situation if my mind keeps going to those things. Why should I? Last year it was the same. I kept my mind on the job and it worked. It has to work this year as well.

"Don't forget from last year we are more or less in the same situation. Last year, we had two points more than this. It's important that we keep in the reality and the reality is that I have to keep the team working at their best."

He said he trusts all his players to do their best for the club and give everything over the coming months to improve fortunes. "I believe the players are committed to what they are doing. I believe their attitude tells me they are committed.

"They are here and they want to do the job for West Ham because they care about West Ham. I trust the players so nobody will change my mind that they are focused on the job they are doing.

"The last two games were painful, but this is the situation. They belong to the past and if you keep switching your mind to the past, it doesn't help the situation. Now we've got a massive game on Sunday against Chelsea, so our focus and our energies have to be on that game.

"In the last two games, we did some good things and made some mistakes but the point now is what we're going to do on Sunday against Chelsea, and I want the players to be focused on that; how are we going to beat Chelsea? That's what will make the difference."

Zola said he would not compromise his beliefs and said he remains aware of the expectation on his shoulders from supporters. "At West Ham, they want to play football in a certain way. They're not interested in playing differently, and that's why I was appointed and what I try to do.

"I try to keep that plan and to get results as well. I don't see why you shouldn't play good football and get results as well. Playing good football is connected to getting results as well, so the two things cannot be separated. Tell me, if I play good football am I going to lose? I don't think so."