Unai Emery claimed Nicolas Pepe’s miss from six yards was a key moment as Arsenal’s run of eight games unbeaten in all competitions came to an end at Sheffield United.

Lys Mousset’s goal at Bramall Lane gave the Blades a 1-0 win as Arsenal’s poor run against the Blades continued, having never won against them in four Premier League attempts.

Pepe has endured a frustrating start to his career in England having moved from Lille for £72million in the summer with the forward yet to score from open play for the Gunners.  

The defeat means Arsenal miss an opportunity to go third in the league and Emery believes Pepe’s miss is part of a process with improvement and gaining confidence.

"The chance for us, for Pepe, was the key," he told reporters.

"Because if they score the first goal, defensively they’re very strong.

"Pepe is improving I think, but his way with us is little-by-little getting better, and the next step is to score.

"Tonight for example, the best chance is one he is usually going to score, but he didn’t take it with efficiency. He is improving and taking confidence, but it is one process."

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has apologised to Patrice Evra and admitted the club "got it massively wrong" when they wore t-shirts in support of Luis Suarez following a racism incident between the pair in 2011.

Suarez received an eight game ban after racially abusing the Frenchman in a match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in 2011.

In the return match at Old Trafford, Evra refused to shake the Uruguayan’s hand but after the punishment was handed down by the Football Association, Liverpool wore T-shirts in support of Suarez in the warm-up of their Premier League clash with Wigan.  

"There was no doubt we made a massive mistake," Carragher said on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, where Evra was also a guest.

"I’m not saying I wasn’t part of it because as the club we got it wrong and I was vice-captain. I’m not sure who was actually behind it. I think it was the players who were close to Luis in the dressing room who really wanted to support their mate.

"Maybe I didn’t have the courage as an individual to say ‘I wasn’t wearing it’. I don’t think everyone at Liverpool thought what we were doing was right.

"Your first reaction is to protect your team-mate. Even when you know they have done something wrong. And that's wrong.

"I’m not condoning what we did. Apologies, we got it massively wrong."

Evra also admitted to feeling shocked when he saw the display from Liverpool’s players.

"When I saw it, I was like this is ridiculous, this is unbelievable. You always have to support your players but this was after the ban," he added.

"What message do you send to the world? Supporting someone being banned because he used some racist words."

For the first time in six seasons, there may be a new winner of the Western Conference.

The Golden State Warriors, winners of the conference in each of the previous five campaigns, have lost Kevin Durant to the Brooklyn Nets and Klay Thompson to injury.

The Los Angeles Lakers added Anthony Davis but didn't improve nearly as much as the Los Angeles Clippers, a team that was better than them last season and have since added Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

All we can do is guess who will win the conference this season and it could easily be an under-the-radar team like the Utah Jazz, who added Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic.

Here's what we think you can expect this season.

Team on the rise: Dallas Mavericks

Dallas improved a lot last year with Luka Doncic coming into the fold and now they will have a healthy Kristaps Porzingis. We'll have to see how it works in the long run, but this team appears to clearly be trending upward.

Team on the slide: Oklahoma City Thunder

This is obvious. Oklahoma City lost Russell Westbrook and George. A step back is inevitable. But this team has talent with Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Steven Adams, Danilo Gallinari, Dennis Schroder and Hamidou Diallo. We'll see how it works out and if the Thunder trade any of those guys to hasten their rebuild.

MVP: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

No Durant and no Thompson. That means a lot more shots for Stephen Curry. The big question is how he will fit with D'Angelo Russell, who is a lot more ball-dominant than Thompson. But if they can work well together, we could see the two-time MVP-level production from Curry again. 

Rookie of the Year: Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans

An obvious candidate. Williamson has already won the Rookie of the Year Award if he can get through the season healthy - and there are doubts about that given he will miss the start of the season due to knee surgery. Williamson will be on a team without a ton of talent and on highlights every single night. That's a great recipe to win Rookie of the Year.

Stat shot: Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets

Jokic has averaged 18.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists each of the last two years. Only Westbrook and Oscar Robertson have done that over a three-year span.

The Nuggets might not have added as much as some of the other teams in the West (see the Houston Rockets, Clippers, Lakers), but one more year of development of Jokic and Jamal Murray, plus a healthy Michael Porter Jr, should keep this team in contention for a playoff spot.

Three storylines

1. The Rockets duo: Will Westbrook and James Harden be able to mesh together in an offense? And how will Westbrook's shooting struggles fit with Mike D'Antoni?

2. Clutch performers: Will Davis and LeBron James dominate the league like we think they can or will the duo once again struggle to stay healthy?

3. A pair reigns supreme: Is it Harden and Westbrook? James and Davis? Leonard and George? Donovan Mitchell and Conley? Doncic and Porzingis?

Predicted order of finish

1. Clippers*
2. Lakers
3. Jazz
4. Rockets
5. Nuggets
6. Warriors
7. Trail Blazers
8. Spurs
9. Mavericks
10. Kings
11. Pelicans
12. Timberwolves
13. Thunder
14. Grizzlies
15. Suns

*NBA Finals representative

The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has been unable to make a final decision on a new date for the postponed Clasico clash originally set for October 26 due to new input from LaLiga.

RFEF confirmed the postponement of the match last Friday following political unrest in Catalonia.

Violent scenes have broken out in Barcelona after nine Catalan political leaders received long prison sentences for their roles in the region's 2017 referendum and subsequent declaration of independence last Monday.

A rally in Barcelona has been called by pro-independence politicians for October 26, ultimately resulting in El Clasico's postponement for security reasons.

RFEF left Barca and Madrid to agree a date between themselves and they mutually accepted to reschedule the match for December 18, but that now looks unlikely.

LaLiga is reported to have insisted on the game being played on December 4 and RFEF has passed its comments on to the clubs, who have been given until 20:00CET Tuesday to respond.

RFEF's statement read: "The Competition Committee of the Royal Spanish Football Federation will return to Barcelona and Real Madrid tomorrow [Tuesday] after receiving new statements from the National Professional Football League [LaLiga] on the date of the Clasico [originally] to be played on October 26 and was postponed due to exceptional circumstances.

"The clubs will have a deadline to answer by 20:00 on Tuesday, and the Competition Committee must meet again to assess their responses.

"During the day, the Competition Committee has analysed the proposals of both clubs, which it invited to agree to a day and who have agreed to play the postponed match on December 18.

"It [the Competition Committee] has also analysed the various reports sent by the National Professional Football League during these days.

"In addition, the Committee requested a report from the RFEF Competition Area, which has been sent to them in a timely manner."

Arsenal were denied a "clear penalty" in their 1-0 defeat to Sheffield United and did not deserve to lose the match, according to boss Unai Emery.

Lys Mousset scored the only goal in Monday's Premier League clash at Bramall Lane to earn the hosts a famous victory on his first league start.

The 23-year-old profited from some slack defending from a corner to punish Arsenal, who had previously gone eight matches unbeaten in all competitions.

Defeat for Arsenal cost them the chance to move up to third in the table, but Emery felt his side were denied an obvious penalty for John Egan's shirt pull on Sokratis inside the opening seven minutes.

"We did not deserve to lose and we conceded a lot of corners in the first half and they scored in one action," he told Sky Sports. "Above all, we have to improve by not allowing balls like that. 

"When we have our opportunities to attack, we created more chances than them but did not score today. 

"We deserved more from the game but they have conceded the least goals in the Premier League and it was going to be difficult if they scored first. We tried in the second half, created three good chances to score.

"There were two key moments in the match - one was their goal, and the second was a very clear penalty for us for a foul on Sokratis. It was very clear."

Bukayo Saka was later cautioned for a perceived dive inside the box under pressure from Enda Stevens, five minutes after Mousset's winning goal from close range.

"Saka drives forward but I do not know if it was a penalty," Emery said. "It is a hard action for a yellow card. With VAR, the foul on Sokratis should have been reviewed. It was clear but we have to accept it.

"We did not deserve to lose and we will think about where we can improve. When we were losing 1-0, we controlled the game and defended well but they had a lot of players in their box so it was difficult to achieve attacks."

Arsenal are now winless in four league games away from home since the opening weekend and Emery added: "We have challenges in each match. 

"Tonight we had a big challenge to get the three points. We are playing some young players who are taking experience but the most important thing is to win. The result is one thing, but we can analyse positively."

Grigor Dimitrov recorded his 300th win on the ATP Tour by defeating qualifier Damir Dzumhur 6-3 7-5 at the Erste Bank Open.

Ten years on from his first tour-level triumph, Dimitrov came through his opening match in Vienna having fallen at the first-round hurdle last year.

He won 55 per cent of his return points against Dzumhur, who has now lost all four of his matches with the Bulgarian.

"I think it was one of those matches that I really had to go through," Dimitrov said in quotes published on the ATP Tour's website.

"I was very determined in my own game to find that rhythm. I still believe that I could have done a few things better."

His second-round opponent will be Matteo Berrettini, whose quest to reach the ATP Finals was boosted by a come-from-behind 3-6 6-3 6-4 success over Kyle Edmund.

Berrettini, currently ranked 11th in the world, saved four of the five break points he faced and did not give Edmund a sniff on his serve in the decider.

Second seed Karen Khachanov beat Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 7-6 (7-3), while fifth seed Diego Schwartzman and Marton Fucsovics also won.

In over a year at the club, it's difficult to see what impact Unai Emery has actually had on Arsenal.

Even before kick-off at Bramall Lane, there was a certain aura around the contest that had Arsenal's struggles on Monday looking entirely predictable.

Firstly, the Gunners' record in Sheffield – for what it matters – is woeful in the Premier League, having won just once against United or Wednesday and losing six.

While the Blades' pre-match position of 15th was hardly anything to be impressed by, they have been lauded for their defensive solidity, conceding the joint-fewest goals in the division with Liverpool.

If there was a team you could see a mentally fragile Arsenal struggling against in a game many would ordinarily expect them to win, it was the Blades.

The Gunners' display was reassuringly typical.

Much of the build-up play was easy on the eye, yet they were sorely lacking killer instinct and once again appeared feeble at the back. On top of that, it remains a mystery as to what Emery's plan is.

Nicolas Pepe's performance was his Arsenal career in a microcosm. The Ivory Coast international showed some nice flashes and, in fairness, was arguably the visitors' most creative player, delivering 12 crosses – five of them accurate – and crafting a glorious chance for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

But then came the moment of horror. With Sead Kolasinac's low cross played right across the face of goal, Pepe was there to tap in from about two yards out, only he barely touched the ball and he was left with his head in his hands.

United capitalised and exploited Arsenal's defensive frailty with 30 minutes on the clock. Oliver Norwood's corner found Jack O'Connell unmarked at the back post and his header was diverted home by the similarly unattended Lys Mousset in the middle of the six-yard box.

It was the 22nd goal Arsenal have conceded from a set-piece in the Premier League since the start of last season, the third worst after Everton (24) and Watford (25).

As such, Arsenal have now kept just two clean sheets in their past 14 league games.

They were the dominant force after the interval, spending much of it in the Blades' half, but it was still unclear how they planned to find a way through.

Dani Ceballos' introduction at least saw a competent ball-player enter the fray, though he didn't offer much drive or incisiveness, rather spending most of his time spraying long-range passes out to the right flank.

It's the same old story; Arsenal possess talent but lack character.

Even in Arsene Wenger's latter days one could see an identity, but now that's less clear. Emery's general system resembles that of a counter-attacking team, though most weeks they look almost unrecognisable to the last.

Of course, part of that comes down to the players being used, but at the same time that suggests Emery regularly squeezes players into roles they aren't suitable for.

As their desperation grew on Monday, Arsenal's plan B seemed to be based on hooking hopeful balls into the penalty area and that never looked like working against this Sheffield United defence.

Arsenal's lack of inspiration and ingenuity meant defeat was entirely deserved, but most alarming is how predictable their gutless performance was. It was entirely in keeping with their away record under Emery, having won just eight of 24 Premier League games on the road since he took over, recording two clean sheets.

Until Emery fixes that spinlessness, he is doomed to leave Arsenal having changed nothing.

Virgil van Dijk is been joined by six Liverpool team-mates in the 30-man shortlist for the 2019 Ballon d'Or, while Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are also present.

Van Dijk played a vital role as Liverpool won the 2018-19 Champions League, producing several standout performances at the heart of Jurgen Klopp's defence en route to the title, making him one of the favourites for major individual awards.

He was pipped to The Best FIFA Men's Player award by Barcelona star Messi, who will surely be Van Dijk's biggest competition for the Ballon d'Or having inspired a Barca side many consider underwhelming to the league title.

Fellow Reds stars Sadio Mane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah, Alisson, Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino all join Van Dijk on the list.

Ajax captured the imagination of neutrals in Europe's elite competition last term, reaching the semi-finals in stunning fashion before dramatically going out to Tottenham, and a couple of players from the Amsterdam's club are nominated.

Donny van de Beek and Dusan Tadic are in the running, while Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt - who have since moved on to Barcelona and Juventus respectively - are also included.

Elsewhere, Premier League champions Manchester City are represented by Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez, Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero 

Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Hugo Lloris are included from the losing Champions League finalists' ranks, but there is no place for Harry Kane or Christian Eriksen.

Last year's winner Luka Modric also misses out following a below-par year for Real Madrid, as does Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar.

The Ballon d'Or winner will be named in Paris on December 2.

Meanwhile, De Ligt is one of 10 youngsters nominated for the Kopa Trophy, awarded to the best performing player under the age of 21.

Borussia Dortmund and England winger Jadon Sancho is listed for the prestigious accolade and Joao Felix - signed by Atletico Madrid from Benfica for €126m earlier this year - is also in contention.

Four contenders for the Yachine Trophy ply their trade in the Premier League, with Alisson, Ederson, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Lloris included on the 10-man shortlist.

The likes of Jan Oblak and Marc-Andre ter Stegen are also battling it out to win the new award, which is handed to the best goalkeeper of the past 12 months.


Full list of Ballon d'Or nominees:

Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Dusan Tadic (Ajax), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool), Donny van de Beek (Ajax), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal), Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus), Alisson (Liverpool), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Bernardo Silva (Manchester City), Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Mohammed Salah (Liverpool), Eden Hazard (Real Madrid), Marquinhos (Paris St-Germain), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid).

Roger Federer was delighted to find a "good spring in my step" as he cruised into the second round of the Swiss Indoors Basel with a 21st successive victory at the event.

A nine-time winner in his home city, Federer overcame qualifier Peter Gojowczyk with ease in 53 minutes on court, making 34 winners in a 6-2 6-1 triumph.

It was the 1,500th match on the ATP Tour for Federer but he showed no signs of either fatigue or rustiness in a routine win.

"I thought the match was good," he said in quotes published on the ATP Tour's website.

"I felt like I had a good spring in my step and was quick onto the ball. Didn't take me long to get used to the conditions. That was positive.

“[I] knew of the danger playing Peter, especially indoors. He had a great couple of qualifying matches, so I knew he'd be tough, especially [because] he beat [Ivo] Karlovic easy, who serves great."

Elsewhere in Switzerland, eighth seed Benoit Paire was knocked out by wildcard Henri Laaksonen, who won 6-3 7-5, while Jan-Lennard Struff and Alex de Minaur advanced.

For the second consecutive season, a basketball titan has fled from the Eastern Conference to Los Angeles, and Kawhi Leonard's departure from the Toronto Raptors has opened up the NBA's weaker conference.

That means a new team could rise to prominence and steal the reigning champions' spotlight.

Some franchises have had postseason success and are a step away from making an NBA Finals appearance while others are undergoing complete rebuilds.

All this will make for some exciting team and individual battles in 2019-20, and here's what we think you can expect this season.

Team on the rise: Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia came agonisingly close to defeating Toronto and advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals last year, and the Sixers made some major moves over the offseason that could help them reach the championship series. They acquired one of the players most adept at guarding Joel Embiid by adding often-underrated Al Horford to their frontcourt rotation in free agency.

Philly also added a talented wing defender in Josh Richardson, giving them even more size.

Their starters could very well be the best defensive unit in the league, and Philadelphia added another specialist coming off the bench in 2019 first-rounder Matisse Thybulle, who has averaged 4.9 steals and 2.6 blocks per 36 minutes in five preseason appearances.

Philadelphia could also have much more offensive upside, despite losing JJ Redick in free agency this summer. One of the team's main problems has been spacing because of Ben Simmons' reluctance to shoot the ball outside the paint, but he's shown more confidence firing from range in preseason play.

The 76ers have one of the most dominant post players in basketball in Embiid, a freakish point guard with dazzling ball skills in Simmons and room for growth. This could be the 76ers' year.

Team on the slide: Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte were respectable last season and finished ninth in the standings — just two games back from the eighth-seeded Detroit Pistons. But losing their lone All-Star Kemba Walker will do obvious damage. It is unclear what the Hornets can do to turn things around, as there are quite a few questions they need to answer.

Terry Rozier will have big shoes to fill as he steps into Charlotte's starting point guard spot. Replacing an All-NBA talent is no simple task, and Rozier will have a lot to prove as the first offensive option on a team for the first time in his pro career.

Then there's the young core. The Hornets used a first-round pick on PJ Washington in the 2019 NBA Draft, but could also start Miles Bridges at that position. Marvin Williams logged 75 starts last year while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and a deteriorating Nicolas Batum also split time there. The jury is out on Dwayne Bacon, Malik Monk, and Devonte Graham, and every decent team in the Eastern Conference will have more consistent rotational pieces.

It's unlikely Charlotte will be able to move Batum's and Bismack Biyombo's undesirable contracts, so there's not much flexibility to acquire assets for the future. The Hornets have basically no shot at landing a big-name free agent, so they'll need to be bad enough to get some top-tier draft picks to avoid remaining a middling franchise just outside of the playoff picture.

MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Reigning MVP Antetokounmpo led his team to the best record (60-22) in basketball last year and essentially has his supporting pieces returning for 2019-20 — save for Malcolm Brogdon.

Each year, Antetokounmpo adds to his bag of tricks, and a step up from the 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds on 57.8 per cent shooting certainly would be something.

Whether it's shooting, playmaking or handling the ball that he improves, it'll make him more dangerous. He'll continue to be a nightmare for opposing teams and will have plenty of eyes watching his development entering year seven.

Rookie of the Year: Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies

Few rookies will handle the ball as much as Morant will this season, and that's reason enough to believe he has a good shot at competing for Rookie of the Year.

Morant will be Memphis' floor general and basically be handed the keys to the offense. He's done a great job so far, tallying 7.3 assists per contest in preseason while averaging only 21.9 minutes. Morant will get more playing time in the regular season and will benefit from playing alongside the athletic Brandon Clarke and Jaren Jackson. 

Stat shot: Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks

Robinson was an enigma protecting the rim from the post and the perimeter last season with his natural shot-blocking ability, and it'll be interesting to track how he follows up his rookie season with the Knicks.

He totalled 161 blocks in just 66 games and averaged 2.4 per contest. His average was the second-best mark in the NBA — behind Myles Turner — while his total of 161 was just 34 shy of what the Cleveland Cavaliers' entire team recorded last season. He's projected to be New York's starting center and could very well notch more blocks than an entire NBA franchise if he remains healthy. Imagine that.

Three storylines

1. Kyrie Irving's trial run: Irving is helping kick off the new era of Brooklyn Nets basketball, but he'll have to do it without injured co-star Kevin Durant. Can Irving thrive in a leadership role on yet another young team?

2. The Kawhi-less Raptors: Many are counting out the Raptors now that they've lost 2019 NBA Finals MVP Leonard to the Clippers. How will they respond to sceptics as the defending champs?

3. Markelle Fultz's development: The 76ers traded Fultz, but the Orlando Magic are confident he can still become a valuable contributor on an NBA team. Will he put together a complete season?

Prediction

1. 76ers*
2. Bucks
3. Raptors
4. Celtics
5. Heat 
6. Nets
7. Pacers
8. Magic
9. Pistons
10. Hawks
11. Bulls
12. Wizards
13. Hornets
14. Cavaliers
15. Knicks

*NBA Finals representative

Zion Williamson is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks after undergoing knee surgery on Monday, the New Orleans Pelicans have announced. 

New Orleans said the top overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft had an arthroscopic procedure to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee. 

Williamson missed last Friday's preseason finale against the New York Knicks due to "right knee soreness".

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry told reporters the team believes Williamson hurt his knee earlier this month against the San Antonio Spurs.

Williamson averaged 23.3 points in four preseason games.

Arsenal missed out on the chance to move up to third place in the Premier League as they fell to a 1-0 defeat against Sheffield United on Monday.

Unai Emery's men entered the match unbeaten in eight matches, including five in the top flight, but came unstuck at Bramall Lane.

The only goal of the game was scored by Lys Mousset half an hour in, coming shortly after Nicolas Pepe had failed to round off a swift counter.

Arsenal had a strong penalty appeal turned down and ultimately could not find a way through, leaving them fifth in the table and winless in four league visits to this ground.

The visitors were punished for Pepe's close-range miss by Mousset's opener eight minutes later.

Jack O'Connell headed down a corner into the six-yard box, where Mousset was waiting to pounce to double his tally for the season.

The visitors were further frustrated when Bukayo Saka was cautioned for simulation when he went down in the box, despite arguing that contact was made by Enda Stevens.

Granit Xhaka had a long-range drive pushed aside by Dean Henderson and the same player glanced over just before half-time.

Pepe was also denied by Henderson from a free-kick and Sead Kolasinac headed over from a good position, but Arsenal were unable to find an equaliser on another day of frustration for Emery.

What does it mean? Away-day blues costing Arsenal

Arsenal are now winless in four Premier League away games since beating Newcastle United on the opening weekend, losing two and drawing two - an issue Unai Emery quickly needs to rectify.

The Gunners have also kept only two clean sheets in 24 top-flight matches on their travels, with this latest setback denying them the chance to move into the Champions League places.

Norwood takes control

Oliver Norwood has impressed during the early stages of the season and produced another composed display here.

He completed 34 passes - more than any other home player - and nobody could better his five tackles.

Pepe's miss proves costly

Arsenal's defence will understandably be criticised after conceding from another set-piece - only Watford and Everton have conceded more from those situations since the start of last season - but their attack also needs sorting.

Pepe squandered a glaring opportunity to put the visitors in front shortly before Mousset's opener and managed just one shot on target all match.

What's next?

Arsenal take on Vitoria Guimaraes in the Europa League on Thursday, before returning to league action with a home match against Crystal Palace on Sunday. Sheffield United have a five-day break prior to facing West Ham.

Diego Simeone understands why Atletico Madrid have been criticised in recent weeks and has called for more consistency from his players.

Atletico were held 1-1 at home to Valencia on Saturday and have now drawn four of their last five LaLiga matches.

Three of those draws have finished goalless, with Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata failing to get going this season, while fellow attacker Joao Felix - out of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Bayer Leverkusen due to an ankle injury sustained against Valencia - has also yet to justify his €126m price tag.

Despite his misfiring side being fifth in LaLiga, Simeone believes there are also some positive performances to build on.

Asked about the criticism his side have faced in the wake of their latest draw, Simeone told reporters: "It's an opinion. I respect it.

"We've always worked hard, we keep working to improve. The team hasn't been consistent, but we've had our [good] moments in every game, against Getafe, Leganes, Celta Vigo... we have to look for [consistency] and keep trying.

"Morata had chances, Costa too. We have to threaten the goal. You have to live with possible down spells."

Koke has started all 11 of Atletico's matches this season and agrees that results will soon start to turn.

"I have to respect everyone's opinion," Koke said at Monday's pre-match news conference ahead of the visit of Leverkusen.

"I'm just focused on keep working hard and help my team winning. I respect people's opinion about me and the team. I cannot agree with some of those. We all, myself, my team-mates and the coaching staff are working hard to get good results. 

"We have a great squad and sooner or late we will get good results.

"Sometimes, people get tired of seeing the same faces for so long time, they get used to good things, so that is why some times there are some critics. 

"We are just three points behind Barcelona and level with Juventus in the Champions League group stage. Let's be calm as the season has just started. We will keep working on it and the positive results will eventually come up."

Megan Rapinoe, Lucy Bronze and Alex Morgan lead the nominees for the 2019 Ballon d'Or Femenin in the award's second year.

Publication France Football revealed their 20-woman shortlist on Monday, acknowledging the successes of Lyon and United States in particular.

Women's Champions League winners Lyon have six players in the running, including Bronze and 2018 winner Ada Hegerberg, though the latter is not thought to be among the favourites given her World Cup absence.

United States lifted the trophy in France and four of their squad have been nominated, with Tobin Heath, Rose Lavelle, Morgan and Rapinoe flying the USA flag.

Rapinoe is regarded by many as the favourite, however, with the Reign FC star inspirational in the World Cup campaign, finishing joint top-scorer on six with Ellen White and Morgan, while she also added three assists.

She won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball in France, before also taking home The Best FIFA Women's Player award, edging out Morgan. Bronze came third.

Full list of nominees:

Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Ellen White (Manchester City), Sam Kerr (Chicago Red Stars), Nilla Fischer (Wolfsburg), Amandine Henry (Lyon), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Vivianne Miedema (Arsenal), Dzenifer Marozsan (Lyon), Pernille Harder (Wolfsburg), Sarah Bouhaddi (Lyon), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC), Lieke Martens (Barcelona), Sari van Veenendal (Atletico Madrid), Wendie Renard (Lyon), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Marta (Orlando Pride), Ada Hegerberg (Lyon), Kosovare Asllani, Sofia Jakobsson (both CD Tacon/Real Madrid), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns).

Page 1 of 514
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.