The 27-year-old forward had not started for the Canaries since the opening day of the season and had hardly featured since he was suspended for refusing to be a substitute in a Capital One Cup tie in August.
Nevertheless, Grabban was given a chance by Neil against the Gunners at Carrow Road and the decision of the boss proved to be a shrewd one as the former Bournemouth man came up with an equaliser just before half-time in the eventual 1-1 draw.
On the decision to start Grabban, Neil said: "If it doesn't go to plan and we lost I would probably get criticised for putting him in.
"At the end of the day management is about making decisions you think are right when everyone else thinks it is wrong.
"He gives me work-rate, will run the channels and retain it really well. Every player goes out there with something to prove.
"There was more of an edge to him and his game today, that is what he is able to do."
Neil added that the incident prior to the league cup clash in Rotherham had since been put to bed.
"It has been fine. I have a good relationship with him, if anyone breaks the rules or does something they shouldn't they will be punished, it hasn't been an issue, we have moved on," he said.
"Because that happened he put himself behind others in the pecking order and that is why he hasn't been involved - but I thought this game suited his attributes."