Confident Sunderland are targeting all three points against West Ham United – provided they can keep Hammers dangerman Dimitri Payet quiet.
The French international has been one of the stand out performers this season, setting the Premier League alight with his quick feet, eye for goal and stunning skill.
He’s a very good player and this year he’s shown what he can do in the Premier League.
Attacking midfielder Payet is a familiar face to £5million January recruit Lamine Kone, with the pair having locked horns in the French top flight.
And Kone – fresh from the Cats’ Dubai training break – knows that any real hopes of securing at least a draw fromUpton Park rest on keeping the Hammers top scorer under wraps.
“West Ham is a big match for us,” Kone said.
“It’s another difficult game because they’re a good team this year with a lot of good players, like Payet.
“But we’re in a confident frame of mind now that we can get a point or even three.
“I’ve played against Payet several times when he was at Lille and also at Marseille.
“He’s a very good player and this year he’s shown what he can do in the Premier League.
“He’s been one of the best players of the season.
“But we know that it’s a big match that we need to be ready for.”
Payet tops West Ham United’s goalscoring charts with seven Premier League goals, plus the two FA Cup goals he scored in their 5-1 win over Blackburn Rovers at the weekend, a win which saw the Hammers cruise into the quarter-finals of the competition.
The 28-year-old joined Slaven Bilic’s West Ham squad in the summer from Marseille, with former Lorient centre-back Kone arriving in the Premier League in January, one of five Sam Allardyce signings during the transfer window.
And the new recruits, who helped Sunderland earn a point at Liverpool and all three at home to Manchester United, are now back training at the Academy of Light following their break in the Middle East.
Sunderland spent last week in Dubai, training at a state-of-the-art facility run by ex-Real Madrid full-back Michel Salgado.
Kone says the break has benefited the first team squad as they prepare for their final ever trip to Upton Park on Saturday lunchtime, with West Ham moving into the former Olympic Stadium in the summer.
And Kone says Sunderland head to London in good spirits.
“It has done us good to recuperate over the past fortnight, recharging our batteries and preparing for the next games,” he added.