West Ham boss Zola: We can beat Chelsea

WEST HAM boss Gianfranco Zola has issued a rallying call to his beleaguered team to bounce back from their dismal home defeat against Bolton and cause a surprise at Chelsea this weekend, writes Dave Evans.

WEST HAM boss Gianfranco Zola has issued a rallying call to his beleaguered team to bounce back from their dismal home defeat against Bolton and cause a surprise at Chelsea this weekend, writes Dave Evans.

The Hammers face the daunting prospect of trips to title-chasers Chelsea and Arsenal in the next two weeks and with the teams at the bottom picking up points, the pressure is increasing.

But Zola is backing his team to show what they can do.

"I know they are big teams and big games, and probably nobody is expecting anything from us, but football is strange," said the defiant Italian.


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"Last year we got a point in both games, so you never know what is going to happen. We are not going there already beaten, because I know that football can give you a surprise."

Zola is likely to be without both Julien Faubert and Herita Ilunga on Saturday, with Jonathan Spector expected to switch to right back and Swiss youngster Fabio Daprela coming in for only his second game in claret and blue.

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Faubert limped off after 47 minutes at Upton Park on Saturday and hasn't responded to treatment.

Daprela, meanwhile, whose only other appearance was in the FA Cup defeat by Arsenal back in January, impressed in Monday's friendly with MLS side San Jose Earthquakes, but it would be a big ask for him to be drafted into the spotlight at Stamford Bridge.

The manager is also expected to go with Carlton Cole as a lone striker, with the possibility of moving Alessandro Diamanti into a more central role in a five-man midfield.

That could mean a start for Junior Stanislas, who has recovered from the dead leg he suffered at the end of Saturday's defeat, but it is also likely to mean no place for Mexican striker Guillermo Franco, who has disappointed since returning from injury.

Benni McCarthy returned to full training yesterday (Tuesday) after his knee injury and is an outside chance for a place on the bench at Chelsea, but he is more likely to target the Emirates as his best option.

Aside from Zola returning to his old stamping ground, Scott Parker will be doing the same after he avoided the yellow card that would have given him a two-match ban.

The midfielder knows what to expect from Saturday's clash.

"It's going to be a tough game," he insisted. "We'd like to have got three points against Bolton, or at least one, but having said that, we went there last year and got something.

"The one thing we need to do at Stamford Bridge is start the game right, and if we do, and we get the fundamentals right, then we have a chance of getting something."

Zola must attempt to lift his players this week after the miserable display against Bolton.

They may still get beaten against Chelsea and Arsenal, but it is an improvement in performance that is needed to give them confidence for the very winnable home games to follow.

"I want more focus from the beginning to set the tone a little bit better," said the boss. "We don't have to go around keeping our chin down, that wouldn't help and would be the worst thing to do.

"Also, you can't think you can forget the away games when they come. By doing that you put the pressure on the home games.

"We need to get some points away from home and we are going to be working on that.

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