Fortune is still in hiding

By JONATHAN CLEGG GIANFRANCO ZOLA is confident that West Ham s form will soon be rewarded with positive results – despite the club s luckless defeat against Aston Villa. The Hammers slipped to a second straight home loss as they were sunk by James Milner

By JONATHAN CLEGG

GIANFRANCO ZOLA is confident that West Ham's form will soon be rewarded with positive results - despite the club's luckless defeat against Aston Villa.

The Hammers slipped to a second straight home loss as they were sunk by James Milner's deflected strike last weekend, leaving the club teetering on the edge of the Premier League drop zone.

West Ham have now failed to win at Upton Park in more than three months but Zola is adamant that his team will climb out of trouble.


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The Hammers boss insists the club are due an upturn in fortune after watching his side prove more than a match for Champions League hopefuls Villa, who were indebted to goalkeeper Brad Friedel's heroics for preserving an unlikely clean sheet.

He said: "It is difficult to come off the pitch after you play a game like that and come away with nothing.

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"It is very hard to take. I don't think my players deserved that and it makes me very frustrated.

"We had so many chances. We were playing against the team that was fourth in the table and we are just one point from relegation - but you didn't see that on the pitch.

"The team is performing well and creating chances, doing everything well but coming away with no points. But it is impossible that it will carry on like this.

"If a team plays like this there is no way it can be like this forever and that's all I can say. We need a change of luck but we will keep trying our best."

Few neutrals would have quibbled with Zola's assessment that the Hammers were unlucky to lose to Villa, but the Italian acknowledged that the team's inability to hit the target is down to more than simple misfortune.

West Ham have netted just four times in 11 matches and shot-shy strikers Craig Bellamy and Carlton Cole have combined for only five league goals all season.

Though Wales international Bellamy was denied by two brilliant saves from Friedel, his counterpart Cole fluffed a handful of chances and looks short of confidence.

Zola admitted that the striker needs to improve his scoring record to justify his place in the team, but pledged to put the 24-year-old through a series of one-on-one training sessions this week in a bid to sharpen his

finishing.

"Carlton needs to be more focused on scoring goals, he knows that and I will be working on him every single day until he gets fed up with it," Zola said.

"From what he does on the pitch he has to score more goals because it can change his performance so much.

"We need to improve [our finishing] because it is holding us up a lot. If we had scored four or five more goals, we would have celebrated a minimum of four or five points more.

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