Dealing with Honda’s absence: How Victory coped without their marquee man

Melbourne Victory welcome back star Keisuke Honda for their top-of-the-table clash with Perth Glory, but the Hyundai A-League champions have dealt with the attacker's absence well.

Honda, 32, is set to make his first appearance for Victory since mid-December after being sidelined with a hamstring injury.

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Without the Japanese star, Victory have managed to stay in the race for the Premier's Plate, sitting four points behind their opponents on Sunday in Perth.

We take a look at some of the Opta data behind Victory's displays in the absence of Honda.

Honda's final touch missed but only just

Honda scored five goals and provided three assists in eight games before his injury, and he was always going to be missed.

Victory won six of those eight games, picking up an average of 2.3 points per match. They won five of nine – losing just one – without Honda at 2.0 points per game, predictably missing the classy attacker.

Kevin Muscat's men were scoring 2.5 goals per game with Honda and went at 2.1 without him, showing the impact of one of their key men.

Despite scoring fewer goals, Victory took slightly more shots (13 to 12.8) per game without Honda, highlighting that Muscat's side were still able to create a decent number of chances.

The classy touch slightly lacking

Honda didn't need long to show his class in the Hyundai A-League, his finishing, composure and ability on the ball a highlight.

Victory averaged less possession (57.8 to 55.3%) without Honda and fewer crosses (13.9 to 12.8), and his absence was felt in the attacking third despite the good form of Ola Toivonen, James Troisi and Terry Antonis.

With Honda, Victory averaged 64.5 passes into the front third and that dropped to 61.1, while passing accuracy (70.3 to 67.8) was also down in that area of the park. They were also less accurate in the front half (75.5 to 72.3).

Fouled often to begin the season, Victory also won fewer free-kicks without Honda (15.3 to 13.1).

Troisi crucially steps up for Victory

Needing others to take more responsibility, Troisi has been the key in stepping up for Victory.

The attacking midfielder has scored four goals and assisted as many in the nine games Honda has missed. Troisi had a goal and three assists in seven games alongside Honda.

Toivonen has continued his goalscoring ways, netting seven in eight games without Honda. He scored three in five with him in the side.

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Only Antonis' attacking numbers – the midfielder perhaps missing what was a flourishing partnership with Honda, while also being used in different roles including right-back – have dipped significantly. He had six goal involvements in eight games with Honda but has just three since.

It has been a case of others standing up for Victory, with Kosta Barbarouses scoring five and assisting two in nine games without Honda, having netted four and set up one before that.

Without arguably their best player, who will be welcomed back, the champions have showcased their depth and experience.