London - West Ham manager Slaven Bilic believes Dimitri Payet's ability to produce sensational free-kicks like David Beckham will be one of the key factors in his side's bid to qualify for the Champions League.
Payet has enjoyed a memorable debut season in the Premier League and the France midfielder's penchant for scoring fabulous free-kicks has become his trademark following his move from Marseille.
The 29-year-old has netted with three spectacular efforts in the last month against Manchester United, Russia and Crystal Palace, prompting Bilic to claim Payet's free-kicks are the equal of set-piece specialist Beckham and should be crucial as the Hammers eye a top four finish.
"They are both great free-kick takers. You can't say that anyone was better than Beckham at taking free-kicks. But then again you can say the same thing about Dimitri this season," Bilic said.
"The tempo he is putting them in is amazing. Now everybody is expecting every time he shoots to put it in the top corner.
"Whenever he has a chance in training he likes to try to bend them."
Bilic could do with more Payet magic on Saturday when third placed Arsenal, seven points ahead of the sixth placed Hammers, visit Upton Park in a crucial fixture in the battle for Champions League places.s to avoid a return to the second tier for the first time since 1988.