Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Dale Stephens is thriving off the increased competition for places within the squad ahead of this afternoon’s match against Everton at the Amex Stadium.
Stephens is battling with the likes of Davy Propper, Beram Kayal and Yves Bissouma for the central midfield berths, and is rising to the challenge of keeping his place in the team.
He said, “I want to play every game, but the competition is healthy and I enjoy it. It’s the environment that you want to play in and that allows you to improve every day on the training pitch.
“I train against Biss [Bissouma], and he’s one of the best players I’ve played with. With the amount of ability, he has for a young lad, he’ll allow me to improve me by training against him every day, as will all the other players.
“It’s something you thrive off to make yourself better.”
The Seagulls midfielder looked ahead to the threat posed by Everton in more detail following the match at Goodison Park back in November, and highlighted the importance of nullifying Richarlison’s influence.
“I don’t think we gave a good account of ourselves up there and it was probably one of our most difficult games of the season so far. They’ve got a way of playing and a squad full of quality.
“I’m sure they’ll be full of confidence, but we take a lot of positives from the Arsenal game heading into Saturday.
“He’s [Richarlison] a top player and a full Brazil international. We knew what he could do when we played them up there and we played against him a few times when he was at Watford too. We know him well and the quality he possesses, and we’ll be looking to keep him quiet.”
With the Premier League season now reaching the halfway stage, Stephens feels Albion can be satisfied with their efforts so far, and challenged his team-mates to accumulate as many points as possible in a hectic festive schedule.
“We want to replicate what we’ve done in the majority of the opening half of the season. We highlighted at the beginning of the season that our away form had to improve and we’ve done that, but we need to do that even more and continue our good home form.
“Now is a good opportunity to get points on the board in quick succession, and I think we’re on track to achieve what we want this season.”