Black Cats in sight

Gianfranco Zola is hoping for a case of 'deja vu' as West Ham United travel to Sunderland this Saturday.

Last season, West Ham United completed a league double over the Black Cats and their victory at the Stadium of Light in November ended a run of seven games without a win. The similarities to this season's campaign are there for all to see with the Hammers on an eight-game winless run at present.

As such, the West Ham United manager is hoping Saturday's match will provide a similar turning point this time around.

"It's a game that we will try to win," Zola said. "It will not be an easy task as Sunderland are a good team in good form. It will require one of our best performances. But it is encouraging how the team is playing in recent games so I'm confident we can do well over there.

"They are doing well and they are a good team. It is going to be a tough match and I am expecting them to be very challenging."

Zola is expecting his players to maintain the form shown in the second half against Arsenal last time out. The Hammers rallied to snatch a point after being two goals down and Zola believes the nature of the fightback can act as a catalyst to revitalise his side.

"The mood in the camp is good and the Sunday game against Arsenal was good as we have been through all of the emotions possible. We came back from hell and those kind of games can change things around.

"The players will be confident about that as they came back from a very difficult situation against a very good team. It will give them a lot of belief and self-confidence."

With Kieron Dyer the only new injury concern - the midfielder has been sidelined for two to three weeks with a hamstring strain - Zola is certain that having a settled squad, coupled with improved performances, will soon start to be reflected in the league standings.

"I said before the Arsenal game a result could give some confidence. Table-wise it is not good but I said before Arsenal we were playing better with more confidence. We have some important players back and that is a good point. We just need to convert this to points.

"Maybe we are not getting results as we lost a lot of points from individual mistakes, not as a team's fault, and that is encouraging. As soon as we reduce the amount of mistakes this team will be performing and getting points, I can promise that."

Scott Parker will miss the match at Stadium of Light through suspension, though, so Czech Republic midfielder Radoslav Kovac is likely to start once more.

"Scott is an important player and he will be missed. Previously in the past we have done without him for a long time and I think I have the players that can do that and can do well. He is a big miss but we can do well anyway.

"He is a key player but I think the mentality is stronger and the others came in and did a good job. Every time Kovac has done a good job and I'm sure he will do the same on Saturday."

It remains to be seen whether Alesseandro Diamanti will be handed a starting berth after his impressive contribution to the comeback against the Gunners, but regardless of whether he is selected on Saturday, Zola has every confidence in his summer signing.

"Diamanti is not a problem for me. I know it takes a bit of time to adapt to this league. For me it is twice as fast as the Italian league so it takes time to adapt. Despite the fact he hasn't performed at his best he has always given a contribution to the team.

"I was pleased with his Sunday performance as he came on with Zavon Hines and made a difference and that's what I need from the players."