Xabi Alonso is a great footballer but for some unknown reason Rafael Benitez has never seemed desperate to retain his services. For a couple of seasons there has been talk of Alonso joining Real Madrid and it’s always seemed absurd to me that the FSW has been so nonchalant it. Last summer he was seriously considering selling Alonso so Gareth Barry could be brought in to the team which utterly bemused me, given the Spaniard is clearly the superior footballer. Liverpool Kop have looked at this topic in much greater detail and I imagine most Liverpool fans will be gutted to see the talented midfielder leave.

However, what should cause them a greater concern is the fact they’re probably going to have to play against eleven men more often now!

Last season, Liverpool played against ten men on nine occasions in the Premiership. To put that in to perspective, that is five times as many matches than United, who played against ten men on just two occasions, against Stoke and West Brom.

Against United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Everton, City, Wigan, Newcastle and Hull, Liverpool had a one man advantage. On five of those ten occasions, Alonso was the player challenged which resulted in the marching orders of one of his opponents.

September 13th 2008: Liverpool 2 – 1 United

Nemanja Vidic sent off for a challenge on Alonso.

September 27th: Everton 0 -2 Liverpool

Tim Cahill sent off for a challenge on Alonso

October 5th 2008: City 2 – 3 Liverpool

Pablo Zabaleta sent off for a challenge on Alonso.

February 1st 2009: Liverpool 2 – 0 Chelsea

Frank Lampard sent off after challenging Alonso.

May 3rd 2009: Liverpool 3 – 0 Newcastle

Joey Barton sent off after challenging Alonso.