Zola going for the win

Gianfranco Zola has called on his West Ham United team to go out and beat Premier League leaders Manchester United on Sunday.

The Hammers manager has guided his players through an eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions and believes they have both the confidence and ability to upset Sir Alex Ferguson's side. The Red Devils have won their last seven league matches and kept 12 consecutive clean sheets - allowing goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar to set an English record of 1,122 minutes without conceding a goal - but Zola insists he will not be sending his team out with a defensive mindset.

"I never play for a point not even when we played at Arsenal. I went there to try and win the game but at the end they forced us to defend a lot because they are a good team and we'll have the same attitude against United. We play at home and we want to win the game. The approach will be that. We will see what the momentum [of the game] will be. We will try to get the momentum on our side otherwise we might need to defend but the idea is to win the game."

While Manchester United are top of the Premier League form table with a maximum 18 points from their last six fixtures, the Hammers are tucked in just behind with 14, having won four times and drawn twice. With both teams producing superb performances and results in recent weeks, Zola is expecting a closely-fought yet entertaining game of football at the Boleyn Ground.

"It's certainly a game where there are two teams who are in very good form playing each other and that makes the game even more interesting. I'm really looking forward to this game. We will try [to beat them] but it will not be easy because right now they are very strong but we are confident and are playing good football and the players are determined to continue on this way. It will be an interesting game. I'm sure that if Manchester United wants to get away with this then they have to play their own best. I'm sure that our own players will be very happy for it."

The Hammers have brushed aside the challenge of Portsmouth, Stoke City, Fulham and Hull City since Christmas, while also securing creditable draws at Newcastle United and Arsenal. Zola puts his team's fine run down to the confidence instilled in his players by their recent performances and results.

"Certainly confidence helps and when you play with your own confidence everything comes together very well and it's one of the factors that is making a big difference for us. The players are really improving and enjoying what they are doing and that is making a big difference."

Another major influence has been that of first-team coach Steve Clarke and his fellow support staff. In typically modest style, the manager paid tribute to the hard work done by those working off the pitch to improve his team's chances on it.

"Steve is a great man and I have always considered him one of the most important parts in the job I was doing and I told the club I was only going to take the job only if I got someone like Steve by my side. He's a friend first of all but he's great at what he does. Everyone at the club is doing a fantastic job - Antonio Pintus looking after the fitness side and also Kevin Keen and Ludo Miklosko. I think it's the secret of this club that everyone is doing a good job, like Gianluca Nani. It's what we said at the beginning that this is what would happen here. Steve Clarke is top class."