By Nick Teale
Arsène Wenger has seen a more focused Sol Campbell since the defender returned to the Club and believes that is down to his time out of the game.
The Englishman left Arsenal for Portsmouth in the summer of 2006, and moved to Notts County at the start of this season. However he only played once for the League Two club.
The 35-year-old asked Wenger if he would be able to train with Arsenal in order to maintain his fitness levels, and the manager believes being out of the game has helped Campbell change for the better.
"It was a good thing for him," said Wenger. "He realised he missed the game and needed the game to be happy, and sometimes we tend to forget that. I have seen that in his focus."
Speaking ahead of Sunday's clash with United, Wenger also pin-pointed why he decided to offer the defender an Arsenal contract.
"[It was] the consistency of his focus on the hard work because we put him through a really difficult regime," said the Frenchman.
"When he came here [to train] he was not in good shape. We pushed him really very hard.
"He asked me if he could practice here. He could have said ‘yes tomorrow I cannot come and I can come two days later'. But the fact that every single day he was there and was ready to work, I thought ‘Oh he is still hungry'.
"I thought if I give Philippe Senderos an opportunity to play somewhere else, why should I look somewhere else? Campbell worked for three months every day and I think for 60 days it was without working with our team, just fitness.
"I was impressed by his attitude. Sol was not the keenest before because he relied on his natural physical ability. This time he pushed himself."
With Thomas Vermaelen's knee injury making the Belgian international a doubt for Sunday's game, Campbell could step in to make his 200th Arsenal appearance, and his first Premier League start since returning to the Club. But manager Wenger is focusing on his entire team, not just the centre-back.
''You don't want to make too much of an individual case in a game like this," he said. "What you want is the team to play well and Sol will play well. If the team does play badly then Sol will be in trouble. You focus more on the team game."
Wenger - Being out of the game changed Sol
By Nick Teale