Glenn Whelan is delighted with his form at Stoke City this season.
The Ireland international admits he had to raise his game after seeing the likes of Charlie Adam and Steven Nzonzi arrive last summer.
"There was a lot of pressure put on myself with the amount of midfielders we were signing," Whelan told the Stoke Sentinel.
"It was a challenge I accepted because I wanted to prove those people wrong who thought I couldn't get into the team and stay there.
"Hopefully, I'm fulfilling that now, but I know I can't afford to let my standards drop.
"The other factor is that we've played a different way this season because we haven't been as direct and we've tried to come through midfield."