Everton defender Phil Jagielka admits the lure of European football is driving the players on.
More often than not the Toffees have headed into January looking to make up lost ground.
However, a strong start to the campaign means they are currently fifth, just two points behind Chelsea who occupy the final Champions League qualification spot.
And having reached this position Jagielka admits the squad are keen not to see all their hard work go to waste.
"I think the disappointment of the start of so many seasons means we've been deflated 10 games in," he said.
"This season we've kept ourselves in with a chance - we've not been this high after Christmas for a long time.
"It's a nice pressure now. Rather than looking behind us or trying to win to stay out of the bottom three it is the case of the pressure being on to stay with the leaders.
"The march towards the European places will obviously be the motivation but we aren't looking too far ahead.
"We haven't got the biggest squad and we're looking at it game in, game out but at the moment that's not been too bad for us."
The England international has just signed a new contract which will keep him at Goodison Park until 2017 and he believes, fitness permitting, he could end his career at the club.
Jagielka also said it was important for the club, which announced a £9.1million loss last week, to tie down senior players to long deals.
"I've signed for a few years and I hope we will go further up the league and be in this situation year in and year out," he told evertontv.
"We are not able to go into the transfer market and buy lots of players so when we do get key players we want to keep them as long as possible.
"I really enjoy playing here. There wasn't a lot of discussion to extending my contract and I hope (to end my career here) as the sports science and fitness team around us helps you progress further.
"Phil Neville's not the youngest (he is 36 later this month) and he played his 500th (Premier League) game recently.
"There are lads who have been here over five years and it proves on the pitch we dig in because we know each other so well.
"We've got a good blend of young and old, so the squad is definitely up there with the best I've been in.
"We've had a good start to the season and hopefully we can have a good rest of the campaign and progress from there."
Groningen defender Virgil van Dijk claims Everton, among others, are interested in signing him.
"I'm aware of the interest of a few clubs and Everton is one of them," the 21-year-old told Voetbal International.
"I enjoy the interest, but if I leave it must be a good decision when I leave."