Zola eyes Anfield repeat

The date is 11 June 1996 and Gianfranco Zola has done something that West Ham United have not achieved since 1963 - won at Anfield.

That day, Zola was part of the victorious Italy side which scored a 2-1 Group C victory over Czech Republic at UEFA Euro 96 - with both goals being scored by his close friend and strike partner Pierluigi Casiraghi.

Nearly 13 years later, the Hammers manager believes his players can end the club's 47-year hoodoo at the home of Liverpool.

"The confidence level is definitely higher than before. We're going there [to win] and I think we have found a way to be more effective. We know that, until the end, the important thing is going to be to fight very hard until the point when we can play with a little bit more freedom.

"We will go and give everything we have got, and hopefully it is going to be enough.

"I did win there as a player. We are expecting a difficult game over there because of their team. We can do it, though. We have a lot of motivation and enthusiasm to do it, so we will have a go."

Liverpool go into the game contending with the twin distractions of a prospective takeover in the summer and a UEFA Europa League semi-final, first-leg trip to Atletico Madrid less than 72 hours after Monday's meeting.

"They might be [distractions], but I don't think we have to rely on them. We have to rely on ourselves if we want to get a good result. We have to put in a good performance and everyone has to work very hard. On top of that, if we have advantages, then that is good, but I honestly believe we need to do it ourselves."

While Zola will be without the suspended Scott Parker for the trip to Anfield, he lauded the impact made by Ilan - who scored important goals in the 2-2 draw at Everton and 1-0 win over Sunderland - and Mark Noble, who took the Hammer of the Year's place in central midfield against the Black Cats to good effect.

"Ilan, everybody saw, scored two goals that got us four points, so he really affected the game both times. I'm delighted for him.

"Mark Noble obviously came on and gave us a lot of energy and enthusiasm and those things, right now, are priceless. So I'm very pleased that he's back on form and I think he's getting better and better.

"It's important [that the other players step up]. Scott is a very talented and important player for us, but we have to remember that, last year, we played without Scott for a long time and got good results. We have to be a team. We know that if everybody works hard as a team then, even if we are missing one important player, we can get a good result."

Another player who the manager has been delighted to see back on the training pitch this week is Luis Boa Morte, who made a successful return to reserve-team action at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday evening - even if it is a case of slowly but surely for the popular midfielder.

"It was very nice. Last year, he wasn't only important at the end because he played, but he was important throughout the year because of his enthusiasm and his positive attitude. He was very important for the whole team. We missed him a lot on the pitch and off the pitch and now I hope he is going to be able to play before the end of the season. That will be massive for us."