Dimitri Payet says his stunning form at West Ham this season is down to the faith shown in him by manager Slaven Bilic as the Hammers continue their bid for European football against Swansea City.
France international Payet arrived from Marseille during the close-season and has been the standout performer in a West Ham side that have impressed in the Premier League this season.
Payet has scored nine goals and provided 10 assists in 28 league appearances, with his form seeing him collect five accolades at the club’s awards ceremony on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old had earned a reputation for frustrating inconsistency earlier in his career, but Payet cited the influence of Bilic as key in his rise to prominence.
“I didn’t think I would adapt this quickly, to be honest. I thought it would be harder, but with the fabulous team-mates that I have, and the manager and coaching staff, the settling in period was easier than expected,” he told West Ham’s official website.
“Slaven Bilic is very important for me and my confidence. He has done everything possible to help me to blossom as a player and when I suffered an injury and had a difficult time, he was the first person to come to my house and check up on me.
“My form has been down to all the squad, the coaches and the medical staff, but I would like to personally thank the manager for all the help and support he has given me.”
West Ham will play at Upton Park for the penultimate time before moving to the Olympic Stadium when Swansea visit on Saturday.
A 3-0 win at West Brom last time out saw them surpass their best Premier League points total and they are sixth with three matches remaining.
Depending on how Manchester United and Liverpool fare in the FA Cup and Europa League, eighth place could be enough to earn a spot in Europe’s secondary competition.
The fixture against Swansea represents the chance to add another three points to their cause, with the Welsh club having failed to win any of their past six league matches against West Ham.
Swansea, who have not won away at West Ham since 1956, impressed in a 3-1 victory over Liverpool last week, though, and boss Francesco Guidolin called on his side to keep having a say on the end-of-season shake-up.
“We still have important games against important clubs,” he said. “We can decide who can go into Europe next season with our games.
“Manchester City can compete for the top four, perhaps West Ham as well. It is difficult for us, but I am confident because we have a good group.”
Guidolin is set to rest captain Ashley Williams for their last two games ahead of Wales’ Euro 2016 campaign, while the Italian said Neil Taylor and Gylfi Sigurdsson are out as they require treatment.
West Ham have no new reported injuries.
Key Opta Stats:
– Andy Carroll has scored four goals in four Premier League appearances against Swansea for the Hammers.
– Swansea City have won their last two league games against London clubs (2-1 v Arsenal and 1-0 v Chelsea). They had not won any of their previous eight (D5 L3).
– West Ham United have already achieved their highest points tally in a Premier League season (59), beating their previous best of 57 in 1998-99.
– Only one team has stopped the Hammers from finding the net at Upton Park in their last 21 Premier League home matches.
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