Brighton & Hove Albion midfielder Dale Stephens emphasised that the results against the division’s top six sides are improving after Saturday’s narrow defeat to Manchester United.
Chris Hughton’s men recovered from a two-goal deficit at the interval to pull one back through Pascal Gross and rally late on, and Stephens highlighted those efforts as evidence of progress against the league’s top teams.
He said, “I feel like we’re getting closer to results against the top sides and I think our performances against them are evidently improving.
“It shows we’re going forward – there was a sense of relief on their part at the end and we have to use that.
“We made them hang on, had chances late on, and were the better team after the break – I had an opportunity late on, but it just didn’t fall for us.”
Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford had given the hosts an advantage going into half time, and Stephens reflected on the first half that he believed cost Albion in the north west.
“We played well in spells but didn’t start well enough and they’re poor goals on our behalf.
“But we reacted and by the end it was a tight game, we’re disappointed but we have to take the confidence from this afternoon into the next few weeks.
“Our start wasn’t at the levels we’ve reached in previous matches and when you do that against teams like Manchester United it can cost you.”
The Seagulls’ next three league contests see them face Fulham, Watford and Burnley following next weekend’s Emirates FA Cup tie at home to West Brom, and the midfielder was optimistic ahead of the sequence of matches, as well as reflecting on the recent positional change of a teammate.
“We have games coming up at home in the league and we know they’re one’s people will look at and expect us to get points.
“The new formation changes Pascal’s role slightly – he’s used to playing as a number ten, but everyone has defensive responsibilities – he can do it well and he works hard for the team and you can see he’s getting used to the position now."