Beauties need beasts for a miracle
Liverpool's slim title hopes depend on the Hammers and former Reds discard Carroll
Brendan Rodgers' title dreams rest with Andy Carroll, which is a bit like leaving your chickens with Colonel Sanders.
In a madcap season where bonkers became commonplace, it all ends rather fittingly with the Premier League's swashbuckling artists relying on brutish, sweaty labourers to get the job done.
Liverpool's balletic beauties need a miracle from West Ham's brutish beasts.
Rodgers' advocates of the attacking game are reliant upon the true architects of anti-football.
The only way to the title at Anfield is Route One at the Eithad Stadium.
Rodgers has suddenly championed the combative, aerial qualities of "Big Andy"; a footballer he previously treated with all the disdain of a venereal disease. He couldn't wait to get rid of him.
According to the Liverpool manager, Carroll will cause Manchester City "real problems" tonight; the kind of problems he rarely, if ever, demonstrated in a Reds jersey. He has excelled only sporadically for West Ham.
But Carroll is a man transformed. He's no longer a striking pariah; a predictable barnstorming embodiment of all that's outdated with English coaching. He's the great red hope.
Throughout his tumultuous and brief stint at Liverpool, he usually walked alone. If he bags an unlikely winner against City, he'll never walk alone on Merseyside again.
And there is a chance. It's slim to the point of anorexic and Manuel Pellegrini's magnificent, muscular machines will methodically disembowel their opponents if they take an early lead, but they are not facing a bus at the Etihad.
Sam Allardyce owns the bus garage.
West Ham's 14 clean sheets represent a defensive milestone for their cautious manager; the best of his career. Only Chelsea, Arsenal and Southampton have surpassed that remarkable figure.
Winston Reid and James Tomkins are not names to trigger insomnia in the Pellegrini household, but it's the quantity rather than the quality that might cause a smidgeon of concern.
West Ham invariably play with six at the back. If the opponents hover around the sharp end of the Premier League pyramid, the Hammers have been known to pull 10 men behind the ball and even Carroll lumbers back for all the set-pieces and corners.
Carroll has even been known to clear his lines before embarking on a heroic, futile, 60-metre dash to trap his own ball.
Allardyce's will try to nullify Yaya Toure by bypassing him altogether. A row of cannons should be established along the edge of Adrian's penalty box, as the Hammers fire one after the other in the general, aimless direction of Carroll, who will scamper around like a delirious dog chasing after his owner's sticks.
But he has to catch only one.
Martin Demichelis' mercurial form has risen sharply in recent weeks, but that doesn't mean he's any more enamoured by the prospect of marking such a scruffy, messy battering ram; all heads, elbows and dreams of boarding the plane to Brazil.
Kevin Nolan up against Vincent Kompany is a mismatch. But if the latter is forced to assist in the manhandling of the cumbersome Carroll, then Nolan could be freed to perform his chicken dance one more time to leave Liverpool crowing.
Indeed Carroll's awkwardness neatly summarises the Hammers.
Historically, West Ham have been stubborn, schizophrenic opponents for title favourites in critical contests. Throw in Allardyce's negative tactics and City might privately wish to conclude proceedings against more predictable opposition.
In 1992, Manchester United must have been organising the parade route for the open-top bus and booking the hotel suites when they swaggered into Upton Park as champions-in-waiting, facing a cheap rabble of misfits who'd already been relegated.
West Ham defied logic, and the eye itself, when they popped up with a ridiculous winner through Kenny Brown. Sir Alex Ferguson called the home side's effort "obscene". I was there. It was.
In 1995, they did it again; same side, same venue, different season. Andy Cole came up against the impenetrable human wall of Ludek Miklosko. The Red Devils faltered once more.
The haphazard Hammers have played the unlikely role of title-deniers twice. If they complete the hat-trick at the Etihad, no one in a City jersey is going to present them with the match ball.
The obvious gap in quality between City and West Ham is certainly not the chasm that existed between West Ham and United in 1992.
Perhaps that's straw clutching.
And as straws go, they do not come any more conspicuous than West Ham's main target man.
If Liverpool are still holding out for a hero, then Carroll must leave Demichelis looking like a fool.