Saha leaves home-grown strikers in the shade

Independent Premiership Index: Fulham forward joins Parker and Touré from London rivals among pick of élite's players

Scott Parker, Louis Saha and Kolo Touré are the brightest "breakthrough" players in English football this season, according to The Independent's Index ratings of Premiership players. The trio all feature in our Team of the Season so far, with Parker the joint top-rated player, Saha the second-best striker and Touré the joint second-best defender.

Parker has scored an average mark of 6.9 (out of 10) per game, which is the same as Roy Keane. This is a continuation of the form that was highlighted by his Index ranking throughout last season.

Saha has scored an average of 6.4, leaving only Thierry Henry as a higher-rated striker in England's top division.

Touré has scored an average of 6.3, which has been bettered in defence only by his Arsenal team-mate Sol Campbell.

Saha's fine season has led to interest from Manchester United. Touré's has seen him establish himself in a title-chasing Arsenal team who are unbeaten in the Premiership.

The Index provides an on-going assessment of every Premiership player. Our reporters award marks to every player in every League match based on fixed criteria. These range from one mark for the kind of truly awful showing that might be encountered only once or twice a season, through to 10 for an equally rare outstanding display.

Every player starts a match with five marks and this is increased or decreased accordingly. Players must have featured for at least 15 minutes in at least one third of their side's Premiership games to merit inclusion in the Index. Only domestic League performances are rated.

The partnership of Henry and Saha in attack highlights the dominance of foreign strikers in the Premiership.

Indeed, among the top 10 forwards in our ratings, only two Britons feature and they are England's veteran pairing of Teddy Sheringham and Alan Shearer. It says something about the dearth of young, consistent home-grown frontmen that the likes of Adrian Mutu, Paolo Di Canio and Florent Sinama-Pongolle were judged to be making more valuable contributions.

British and Irish players continue to dominate in midfield, with Parker surely close to a regular England place. Scholes already has one, of course, as does Steven Gerrard, who makes the top 10 midfielders. There is no place for Michael Owen, but Merseyside can provide both forwards in a 21-and-under XI through Sinama-Pongolle and Wayne Rooney.

POSITION BY POSITION THE TOP MEN

BEST GOALKEEPERS

1 D Kiely (Charlton Athletic) 6.6

2 A Niemi (Southampton) 6.5

3= E Van der Sar (Fulham) 6.2

3= P Robinson (Leeds United) 6.2

5= T Howard (Manchester United) 6.1

5= S Hislop (Portsmouth) 6.1

5= M Taylor (Birmingham City) 6.1

5= C Cudicini (Chelsea) 6.1

5= S Given (Newcastle United) 6.1

10 K Keller (Tottenham Hotspur) 5.9

BEST DEFENDERS

1 S Campbell (Arsenal) 6.4

2= D Dublin (Aston Villa) 6.3

2= K Touré (Arsenal) 6.3

2= M Silvestre (Manchester United) 6.3

5= K Cunningham (Birmingham City) 6.2

5= C Cooper (Middlesbrough) 6.2

7= G Southgate (Middlesbrough) 6.1

7= J Terry (Chelsea) 6.1

7= W Gallas (Chelsea) 6.1

7= M Babbel (Blackburn Rovers) 6.1

7= M Upson (Birmingham City) 6.1

7= A De Zeeuw (Portsmouth) 6.1

BEST MIDFIELDERS

1= S Parker (Charlton Athletic) 6.9

1= R Keane (Manchester United) 6.9

3 P Scholes (Manchester United) 6.8

4 S Malbranque (Fulham) 6.6

5= R Giggs (Manchester United) 6.5

5= M Izzet (Leicester City) 6.5

7= G Mendieta (Middlesbrough) 6.4

7= S Gerrard (Liverpool) 6.4

9= S Wright-Phillips (Man City) 6.3

9= Y Djorkaeff (Bolton Wanderers) 6.3

9= S Stone (Portsmouth) 6.3

9= D Dunn (Birmingham City) 6.3

9= R Pires (Arsenal) 6.3

BEST FORWARDS

1 T Henry (Arsenal) 6.6

2= L Saha (Fulham) 6.4

2= A Mutu (Chelsea) 6.4

4 T Sheringham (Portsmouth) 6.3

5 P Di Canio (Charlton Athletic) 6.2

6= A Shearer (Newcastle United) 6.1

6= F Sinama-Pongolle (Liverpool) 6.1

6= M Forssell (Birmingham City) 6.1

9= A Smertin (Portsmouth) 6.0

9= E Gudjohnsen (Chelsea) 6.0

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