Zola buoyed by strong belief

Gianfranco Zola is looking forward to pitting his wits against one of the managers he most looks up to at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Zola goes into the game against Arsene Wenger's Arsenal with his team brimming with confidence after six wins in their last seven games. After two consecutive 2-0 wins against Hartlepool United and Hull City, Zola believes there is no better place to see just how far the Hammers have come under his stewardship.

"I think the players right now feel they can go out and compete with Arsenal, even away. That is great. I 'm looking forward to this game and it is one of those games where everything will come out," Zola said.

"I said it last time they were here, that he [Arsene Wenger] is one of the mangers I look up to. The way he manages is like what we want to do over here as well. We want to develop the players we have got and make them better. We want to achieve success by doing that."

Like the West Ham United manager, Wenger has demonstrated his commitment to blooding youngsters in the Barclays Premier League and the Sardinian belies it offers a viable alternative to spending vast sums on more established players.

"It is more or less the same way as we are doing here," Zola said. "There are two ways. You can either spend £200m and get top class players and win titles like that or another way you go around and get young players and develop them to build up your team. It takes longer but that is the way I prefer to build up a team."

Zola, who is expected to name the same squad that beat Hull City on Wednesday, must decide whether to field Savio, the latest recruit to his project in north London, or stick with the in-form forward line that has served him so well in recent weeks. It is a choice he admits to being happy to face. "It is a nice problem to have. My way to select them is they select themselves. The way they play, the way they perform. The players know that the best one will play. The one that does well will be in the team."

Although Arsenal are currently sit eight point behind leaders Manchester United at the summit, Zola is sure that his French counterpart will turn the current Gunners' crop into title contenders before long. "Arsenal are very talented but young. I'm sure they will become a winning team but they need time to improve because the Premier League is a tough place to be a winner in.

"What he has done for the club is a great thing and he keeps bringing in very good players. Nowadays, it is not easy to compete with teams like Manchester United and Chelsea, even for Arsenal. Personally I believe he is doing a great job. I like the project they are bringing forward and Arsene Wenger is doing well and sooner or later he will get the team winning again."