Following an instructive debut season in the Bundesliga, Hertha Berlin striker Salomon Kalou appears to have rediscovered his scoring touch in 2015/16.
The thrill of netting a hat-trick in the Old Lady's commanding 3-1 win at Hannover 96 on Matchday 12 still fresh in his mind, the 30-year-old Cote d'Ivoire international took a moment to tell bundesliga.com about his and fourth-placed Hertha's impressive run of form.
bundesliga.com: Salomon Kalou, was the Hannover game your best performance since joining Hertha?
Salomon Kalou: It was definitely my best performance in a Hertha shirt. I'm brimming with confidence at the moment. I'm scoring regularly because I'm making the most of my chances in front of goal again.
bundesliga.com: You scored a hat-trick, despite having to wear a turban-like bandage…
Kalou: Yes, it's not easy playing with that on your head, but it brought me luck. I'd only trained once with it on, so it was difficult getting used to it during the game.
bundesliga.com: Are you superstitious enough to now wear it in every game?
Kalou: If I knew that I was going to score a hat-trick every time I wore it, then yes (laughs). Now I'll use the international break to recover fully with the hope that I'll be 100 per cent fit for the next game.
bundesliga.com: Can you explain why Hertha already have 20 points on the board after 12 matches?
Kalou: We're definitely playing more attacking football compared to last season. This attacking style allows me to show what I've got and exploit my potential. We played in a more controlled manner last season, we got into fewer risky situations and didn't create many scoring opportunities. That wasn't easy. In a league like the Bundesliga where most teams set up to attack, it's easier if you play on the front foot yourselves.
bundesliga.com: What role has Hertha head coach Pal Dardai played in your development?
Kalou: Every day I get the feeling he has faith in my abilities. The only problem is the language because he doesn't speak English or French, and my German is limited. But I like his philosophy. He always pushes us.
bundesliga.com: He’s suspended at the moment, but what role has Vedad Ibisevic played in the team’s bright start to the season?
Kalou: We complement each other brilliantly in attack. He speaks fluent French, which makes communicating a lot easier. I prefer to play alongside more strikers, that takes the pressure off me. Last season, I played as the lone striker and it was anything but easy to create goalscoring chances. It works really well with Vedad, our combination play is good and we have a lot of fun.
bundesliga.com: There are only five matches until the winter break. What's your objective?
Kalou: We want to pick up as many points as possible to put a bit of breathing space between ourselves and our direct rivals. We also want to continue playing attractive football, but we know it'll be far from easy because we've got a major hurdle against FC Bayern coming up and then we face Bayer Leverkusen at home. If we can come through that period, then we can aim for a top-half finish.
bundesliga.com: Your next game is against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. Are you optimistic you'll get another win?
Kalou: We have to take the game seriously. It's important to win our home games. Last time out at the Olympiastadion, we lost to a solid Gladbach side and now we want to make up for that. If we win, we'll establish our place towards the top.
Salomon Kalou was speaking to Alexis Menuge