Erratic Dimitri Payet desperately needs this man back in the West Ham team

Payet Skill

West Ham United travel to Southampton tonight before an FA Cup replay with Liverpool on Tuesday but with their main man's influence jaded.

The Hammers are sitting pretty in sixth place in the Premier League and Dimitri Payet has been one of the stars of the season.

His influence on West Ham's exciting revolution under Slaven Bilic has been huge.

But now expectations are such that the Fenchman's recent erratic form has given fans cause for concern.

Let's get one thing straight Payet is already a hero to Hammers fans and with good reason.

His vision, skill and general brilliance are comparable - and some argue surpass - to the likes of legend Paolo Di Canio.

Patchy form hasn't escaped fans' gaze

But West Ham fans are some of the most knowledgeable in football and it has not escaped their gaze that Payet's form since his return from a two-month injury lay-off has been patchy.

He was unbelievable in a 3-1 away win at Bournemouth, scoring a sublime free-kick and setting up a tap-in for Enner Valencia with some audacious skill.

But in the next game at Newcastle United, Payet was anonymous and hardly got a kick as the Hammers slipped to a 2-1 defeat.

When Manchester City came to town for the recent thrilling 2-2 draw Payet was again the best player on the pitch.

His vision, skill and touches were a joy to watch and it left fans and pundits salivating over his quality.

But at Liverpool in the cup he was once again very quiet and didn't look as sharp as usual.

He struggled in the first half against 10-man Aston Villa last time out. But kept working hard and showed some sublime touches and passes to help the Hammers win the game 2-0.

It hasn't helped that he has occasionally been pushed out wide left which diminishes his influence on the game somewhat and requires him to do more defending than would usually be necessary.

The former Marseille man is of course entitled to the odd bad game.

Why Payet needs this man back

But what has been noticeable is that opposing teams are now setting out to double up on the star.

That's why Payet desperately needs fellow playmaker Manuel Lanzini back in the Hammers side as soon as possible.

The skillful Argentinian has an almost telepathic understanding with Payet and with him in the side teams cannot afford to double up on the Frenchman.

Indeed the same could be said of Andy Carroll as when he and Payet play the opposition face the dilemma of either trying to stop the supply coming from the midfielder or doubling up on Carroll to stop him scoring.

And Payet won't have to wait much longer before the weight is lifted from his shoulders as Carroll is expected to be on the bench for the Southampton game while Lanzini could return on Tuesday against Liverpool.

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch