Zola hails 'fighting spirit'

Gianfranco Zola lauded the never-say-die spirit of his West Ham United players after they stormed back to secure a 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw with Arsenal.

The Hammers looked outsiders to avoid anything other than a defeat as they trudged back to the Boleyn Ground home dressing room two goals down at half-time.

A little over an hour later, the frowns had turned to smiles after goals from the superb Carlton Cole and substitute Alessandro Diamanti saw the hosts battle back from the dead against Arsene Wenger's high-flying Gunners.

Zola, who had likened himself to a 'warrior' rather than a worrier in the run-up to Sunday's game, hailed the fighting attitude displayed by his players.

"The spirit shown by the team was the best thing about today's game, along with the participation and the support the crowd gave us. They were the best things that I have seen today. It's not a victory, but it sounds like it.

"That's what I was looking for because, no matter what, the fighting spirit has to all the time be there. It is something that we can't really do without, so I was pleased with that.

"I repeat that last week I saw something changing and that is very important. Today, I have seen something more and it's very encouraging for me, to be honest.

"Trust me, it was very difficult in that situation. They did it really until the end and I am very pleased and proud of them.

"It was difficult and we did it, so that means we can do it all the time. With that spirit and with the qualities we have got in the team, I think we can do important things, starting today, and I hope we can continue like that."

Having shown such tenacity against one of the Barlcays Premier League's 'big four', West Ham will go to Sunderland next Saturday hoping to secure the victory that could carry them out of the bottom-three.

"I don't want to take any credit for the comeback. It's just the players wanted to react. We said to each other that no matter what, we fight until the end. No matter what, we fight until the end, we give everything and, at the end of the day, we see what happens.

"That was the difference. We went there, we never gave up, the crowd gave us something extra and we made it happen.

"That's the story of life. No matter the difficulty you through, you fight until the end.

"We have the quality. I am sure that this team has got quality. It just needs a little bit more confidence because in this moment it's not great. At the moment, every time we have a mistake, they score. It doesn't help. We need to fight, fight, fight and then we'll see in the end."

Two players who could start at the Stadium of Light are Diamanti and England Under-21 striker Zavon Hines, who both made a hugely positive impact after appearing as second-half substitutes.

"Diamanti made a big difference, and Zavon as well was very positive when he came on. They did very well for us and I'm pleased because Alessandro is a player who can give us something extra.

"Don't forget him and also [Luis] Jimenez are important players. They are coming from a championship [Serie A] that is different and is easier than this, so they need some time to adapt. They have got qualities and those qualities will be important for West Ham."

Another player who showed his qualities was England goalkeeper Robert Green, who displayed his international class by keeping out seemingly goalbound Robin van Persie's 91st-minute header.

"It was an unbelievable save. That was the goalkeeper of the national team. It was a like a goal scored for us. He's made a great save."

The only negative moment in what was an otherwise hugely positive second half was the 85th-minute sending-off of Scott Parker.

The midfielder, who had been booked eight minutes earlier for a foul on Emmanuel Eboue, was shown a second yellow card for handball.

However, manager Zola believes the England man was hard-done-by, having initially won the ball cleanly from Cesc Fabregas before accidentally touching the ball with his arm.

"I might have something to say about that, because Scotty went for the ball with his head and he's been pushed and then tapped the ball with his hand. He didn't mean to touch the ball with his hand.

"It's a pity because Scott was playing well and he's an important player for us. I think he got the ball with his head and then he was pushed and touched it with his hand. He didn't mean that. He was just rolling around. He said he really didn't mean to touch it and I trust him."