Gylfi Sigurdsson believes the strong depth of talent in the Everton squad is driving up performance levels, emphasising each player’s eagerness to prove their worth.
Sigurdsson hit the winner as the Blues beat Cardiff City to secure a fourth straight top-flight home success on Saturday.
Marco Silva’s side have now accumulated 16 points from their past seven Premier League matches, a series of results which seen the Toffees rise to sixth position in the Premier League.
The Portuguese manager has regularly underlined his desire to construct a squad where every player is fighting for a spot in his starting XI.
Sigurdsson says this competitive environment has proved a catalyst for Everton’s impressive run of form.
“I think the squad is looking really good,” he told evertontv. “There is a lot of competition for places in the starting XI. I think that’s only a good thing.
“We have got a big squad now.
“We’ve got some very good players who aren’t playing and are eager to come in and prove themselves.”
Sigurdsson showcased his renowned goalscoring instinct to earn Everton a well-deserved three points against the Bluebirds on Saturday, coolly slotting home after Theo Walcott’s effort was parried by Cardiff keeper Neil Etheridge.
The goal was just reward for a dominant Blues display, which saw them enjoy 71 per cent possession and fire in 16 shots, eight of which were on target.
By way of contrast, the away side mustered a solitary goalbound effort from their eight attempts.
Neil Warnock’s well-drilled, obdurate side proved a tough nut to crack, nonetheless, with Sigurdsson’s decisive contribution coming just before the hour-mark.
Saturday’s victory followed a similar pattern to Everton’s previous three home games, with the Toffees going in level at half-time before overwhelming their opponents in the second half.
Iceland captain Sigurdsson explains the players retain the belief they will make their quality count in the end.
“Cardiff were a tough team to play against,” he said. “Of course, we had a lot of crosses, a lot of shots, they had a defender clear my shot off the line… you think it’s going to be one of those days.
“We just kept going, trying to create chances and put the pressure on them.
“And towards the end, defensively, the team were fantastic.
“We spoke about being patient throughout the week and, eventually, we’re going to get chances to score.
“Once we did, the game did open up a little bit. But defensively, the defenders and whole team dealt with everything that came at us.”
Sigurdsson, of course, boasts a highlight reel of spectacular long-range strikes – a collection he bolstered with a memorable 30-yard effort at Leicester City back on October 6.
Indeed, since making his Premier League debut in January 2012, no top-flight player has scored more goals from outside the box than the Icelander.
But while the Blues’ Club-record signing contends his winner against Cardiff “was not the prettiest”, he says its value determined it meant just as much as one of his crackers.
“It was nice to get the rebound and tap it in for the three points,” added Sigurdsson. “They all count and it was a very important goal.
“You try to time your runs into the box. Of course, I didn’t expect it to come off the keeper.
"But, as long as you’re in the right positions, you’re going to get that chance somewhere along the line.”
Sigurdsson was an injury doubt for Saturday’s clash, having suffered an ankle injury in Everton’s 0-0 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on November 11.
The playmaker paid tribute to the Club’s medical staff for ensuring he was fit and available to take on Cardiff – and help the Blues continue their momentum heading into this weekend’s Merseyside derby.
“The staff, the physios, and the doctors spent a lot of time with me and made sure I was ready,” he said.
“At the start of the week, I wasn’t sure, but things developed very quickly – I managed to train with the team a couple of times. I felt fine.”