How was your own self-isolation?
This was not the easiest time for me, I often find it difficult to stay at home anyway, I like to go out shopping and have dinner somewhere with my family. But quarantine helped my girlfriend and me get to know each other better, as we’ve only recently started living together. So this experience gave me something new and important.
Have you improved your Russian during this time?
A little bit. Now I understand much more and can count from one to ten, plus I’ve learnt some of the words I’ll need out on the football pitch, things like; “forward”, “back”, “right”, “left” and I also know - “I want”!
Did you miss going to team training?
A lot! I missed the great atmosphere at the Gazprom Training Centre and my teammates. We have the most perfect conditions for training at the centre and no matter what you do at home, even if you’re doing all the same different things you would usually do there, to train alone within those four walls is very different from training in the fresh air with everyone.
How did you feel when you heard the league would restart?
I was waiting for this news for a long time, I had already had many months out due to injury, so I wanted the season to be restarted and completed. It was very important for me to get back on the pitch again, to feel the joy of scoring a goal and get the whole adrenaline buzz you get in a match. I’ve missed football very much and I am happy that I can enjoy it again.
How would you rate your current form?
I know that I have more to come and it’s not easy returning to full match fitness after a three-month break. I know that every match will see me get better and better, and that soon I will reach my peak.
How was the match with CSKA Moscow?
It was a tough game against a strong side and at a place that is always difficult to go to. But this time it was a little easier than usual because CSKA didn’t have their supporters in the stadium. We took our opportunities well and it went great! Now it’s important to continue in the same vein.
You celebrated your first goal by doing Dzyuba's trademark celebration, why was that?
I wanted to show my gratitude to Artem. He could have taken the shot himself, but instead decided to pass to me and set me up, the defender then made a mistake which I took advantage of and scored. It was my way of thanking Dzyuba.
The next game is back at the Gazprom Arena, what are you expecting?
We continue to head towards our target and we need to give everything for that. We have four home matches in our magnificent stadium ahead of us and we must win every one. Yes, only 10% of the fans will be in the stands, but I am sure that from kick-off until the final whistle they will support us and it will feel like the usual full house at the Gazprom Arena! We have the best stadium and the best supporters, they help us a lot and we have to get wins for them.
The match against Krylia Sovetov could make the title even closer, have you thought about it?
No, we go forward step by step, goal by goal and we are taking each game as it comes. We are well aware that the championship race is not over yet and to take the gold, we must do our job as best as we can. We all want to be the champions, but none of us will be celebrating too early!